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Irishbookish
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I'm not going to quote anyone, because the posts become t...

I'm not going to quote anyone, because the posts become too long!
 
Some interesting points.
 
"J_Stephens wrote: Make it short, hit the highlights of your work, tell a little about yourself - education,  job (if it relates to your writing) and any contests you may have won on your journey to being published."
 
I agree - short and sweet. Quality rather than voluminous quantities. I would also tend to think less one page. If the recipient wants more, they'll ask.
 
I also agree with personalising. This is something I used to do when applying for jobs overseas. It really helps to create a workable relationship and suddenly faceless candidates/writers become human!
 
 
 
 
"As Time Doth Pass, Remember..."
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Darcy_Andries
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Re: Query Letter and Synopsis Sea-Sickness

Clippership14 wrote:
Thank you!!!!! What a great tip! I've heard about "personalizing" your query letters but I like your advice about doing more than just picking someone specific and sticking their name in the opening. It makes a lot of sense.
How long has your book been out? Are you planning another one?

How long has your book been out? Are you planning another one?

My book has been out about 5-6 weeks now. I have two in the planning stages right now.

Darcy
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Darcy_Andries
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Re: Query Letter and Synopsis Sea-Sickness

I don't think it's been mentioned, but the Publisher's Marketplace (http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/search.html) search engine is a great way to find agents and what they represent.

That's how I found my agent, Regina Ryan. I think what caught my eye was information she had written on that page, specifically "I am particularly interested in books that are helpful and might even change the world for the better" as that fit my book to a T. So, I told her that and then explained why.

If, for example, I was trying to sell a mystery book, I might look through all the agents and find ones that represent authors that I feel write similar to mine. This is a VERY rough sketch of what you can do.

"Dear Ms. Agent,

My name is Darcy Andries and I'm a mystery writer. I noticed that you tend to represent authors who write mysteries with a strong romance feel to them such as Janet Evanovich and J.D. Robb. My manuscript LOVE AND MURDER IN MANCHESTER falls in that vein of books.

I would then explain why I feel that way while at the same time summarizing the book.


Hope that helps,
Darcy
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Clippership14
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Re: Query Letter and Synopsis Sea-Sickness

I just checked out the website you posted--wow! There's a ton of information there! Thanks for passing on the link.
 
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Clippership14
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Re: Query Letter and Synopsis Sea-Sickness

I just checked out the website you posted--wow! There's a ton of information there! Thanks for passing on the link.
 
Right now on www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/ there are s
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Clippership14
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More valuable internet sources.

I just checked out the website you posted--wow! There's a ton of information there! Thanks for passing on the link.
 
Right now on www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/ there are some great postings about what NOT to do in a query letter for anyone who is interested. (Current date being 5/43/08.)
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Clippership14
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Re: More valuable internet sources.

Sorry about the repeat postings, the computer when wacky!
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Irishbookish
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Re: The Formidable Query Letter

[ Edited ]

Clippership14 wrote: I've heard some people are favorably inclined towards including market strategy in their queries, and others are not. I agree with you that doing it towards a small press might be the best as you will have to do your marketing if they publish you (budgets and all being a factor). I suppose it goes back to the whole researching your target and complyingn with their guidelines.

 
Personally, I wouldn't include anything in a query letter that you weren't certain about. I like to just present me and my work initially. I believe that a reasonably short query letter is the best because you're competing with many, many other people and most Editors etc, would have to appreciate this.
Another idea could be to tailor the letter depending on the predominate market of the publisher/agent - especially if your manuscript fits loosely into more than one genre. Just a thought.


Message Edited by Irishbookish on 05-04-2008 03:58 PM
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Clippership14
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Re: The Formidable Query Letter

Here's another useful query tidbit:
If you are writing a series of books, submit the first book like usual but tack on a half- or whole page description of a couple of further titles in the series, as well as a brief series overview.
It makes sense. You're first book might leave your editor/agent scratching their head at why you left it hanging if you never mentioned before that there are books planned to follow.
Double check with whoever you intend to send your query to. They may have more specific preferences for this kind of thing.
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Irishbookish
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Re: The Formidable Query Letter

I agree Clippership.
This is what I have done since having the first of my 5 part series published. I gave a very brief para on each one, but tried to make it easy on the eye. Editors and agents will just toss anything that looks too confusing as there are so many other's to read.
"As Time Doth Pass, Remember..."
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Clippership14
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Referring back to the Synopsis

Here's a great article by Jessica Morrell (writer, editor, teacher of writing) on the subject of the synopsis which is pretty clear cut.
If anyone wants to check out her website (which has several great writing and editing tips) here's the URL:
 
  Tips for Writing a Synopsis

A synopsis provides key information about your novel including the main characters, plot, conflict and essential turning points. The synopsis should be written in the same order as the novel and contain the ending. The synopsis should also be written in the style of the manuscript-a witty, fast-paced novel requires a witty, fast-paced synopsis.

There is no specific rule about length for a synopsis although most editors prefer the shorter the better. By short, they're looking for 1-2 pages single spaced or 5-6 pages double spaced. However, some books such as historical novels or thrillers are too complicated or long to communicate in such a short document. For these longer works type one page per 25 pages of manuscript.

TIPS:

  • Start strong. The first sentence should contain a strong lead and the first paragraphs should provide a hook and introduce the main plot, key conflict, and characters. Example: Alicia Browning, a thirty-year-old supermodel with a face and body that has graced magazines and runways for a decade is found dead in the bathtub of her Manhattan flat. Even in death, her perfect features suggest to investigators that her demise is a tragic accident.
  • Give brief biographical information about the main characters, such as, "Helen Bailey, the protagonist, a 32 year-old librarian who has given up on love when she finds a puppy on the steps of the library."
  • Write in present tense.
  • Write in third person.
  • Rely on vivid verbs and specific nouns, not modifiers to summarize the novel.
  • Write in logical, organized paragraphs that explore one topic.
  • Use transitions between scenes and ideas.
  • Weave characterization into the action.
  • Keep out opinion words and phrases (this moment, which will keep every reader glued to the page, our plucky heroine plunges into the dark alley)-this is summary not book jacket blurb.
  • Include each plot point.
  • Include characters' motivations.
  • Avoid using dialogue unless its essential to reveal character or plot provide a dramatic moment. If included, keep it brief.

Formatting:

  • Do not justify the right margin.
  • Use a slug at top left of pages (except first page)
    Example: Morrell/DRESSED TO KILL/synopsis
  • Use 1" margins on all sides.
  • Type the page number on top right of pages after 1.
  • On the first page type your contact information at the top left, single spaced. At the top left margin type the genre type, word length and Synopsis, also single-spaced. Drop down about 1/3 page and type the title in all caps. Drop down 4 lines and begin the opening paragraph.
  • Type a character's name in all caps the first time he or she is introduced.

©Jessica Page Morrell

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Clippership14
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Re: The Formidable Query Letter

[ Edited ]
Here's an interesting little tidbit I just ran across on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog site. Someone wrote in with the much asked question about how to get over the unsolicited manuscript hurdle with publishers. The first part of the reply is what we've all been hearing but I've boldfaced the second part which I found to be the really interesting part. Here's the answer posted from Chuck (the blog's author):
 
       First of all, let's just define it real quick: An unsolicited manuscript is one that has not been requested. So what that means is you can't send any mss in for review that were not first requested.  If you do, these submissions will not be considered.
       To get over this hurdle, you basically have two options. First, you can look for a literary agent who will represent you.  The literary agent represents your work when dealing with editors and only sends it to editors she knows. Therefore, the work is now solicited.
       Second, you can query the publisher. Just send them a one-page letter (the query) asking if you can submit the entire ms or at least a sample for review. If they like your query and are intrigued by the book's concept, they will request sample chapters or perhaps the entire thing. Since they have just requested some writing, the work is now solicited.

 

So there you are for the agent squeamish. Of course you should still check publisher guidelines and do your research but the doors might not be as locked as hitherto supposed.




Message Edited by Clippership14 on 06-26-2008 02:55 PM
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Briana-loves-to-write
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Re: The Formidable Query Letter

I wanted to thank you for all of this information! I learned a lot just by reading yours and others posts. I had one question, and please dont laugh as I am new to this getting published thing. What is a sample chapter?

 

 

Also the link you posted for the dystel agency was really helpful. I haven't queried any agent yet, but thier website said that they read everything that is sent to them. I really liked that fact, because at least they will give you a chance.

 

-Briana

 

P.S.I would appreciate any advice from published authors. Also from non-published authors who have tried to query agencys or publishers, advice would be great there too.