Having spent the better part of a magical week with family and Harry Potter at Hogwarts School, I’m thinking that a bit of magic is what’s needed to become a traditionally published author. The process is changing faster than an owl can wink an eye. (Sorry, I’ve been Potter-ized . . . not to be confused with Potter-trained).
The newest challenge is adapting your submission process to email. The important ingredient in this submission "packet" is the SUBJECT line. Make it snappy, short, and interesting. Doesn’t have to be your title unless it’s an attention grabber.
Next attention-grabbing issue is the first paragraph of your query letter. Three sentences that describe who wants what and why, what stands in their way, and what is the terrible “or else” if they don’t achieve their goal.
Your query second paragraph expands the first and ends with a tease so the reader will keep on reading your third paragraph about you, and then move on to your quick-read synopsis, and sample pages.
So where's the magic I mentioned earlier? Where it's always been. Inside you. You’ve written an entire manuscript. To most of the world, and all those “writers” who are gonna’ write the next best seller, what you’ve done is an act of magic.
The next little bit of magic you need to pull out of a hat is to learn how to write the documents you need for your query submission packet. You can do it. I’ll help you.
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The query letter (now part of the query submission packet) is your key to landing an agent or publisher. If written correctly, your story, as told in your query, answers the unspoken questions in every agents’ mind: What’s In It For Me? Is this a skillful writer. Is this a salable story? Could this writer be the next Clancy or Patterson?
To help you learn to "sell" instead of "tell" in your query letter, I’m going to be teaching query writing via video, accompanied by a query-letter template, and instructional booklet. (Actually, multiple aspects of what's required to move along with road to authorhood will be covered in future video packages. The PILOT webinar program was presented in August, 2015.
(Note: As of 4-2-2016, the webinar is available, free, to watch. Check it out at the Florida Writer's Association website. CLICK HERE: And please overlook my plethora of "um." My goodness! Oh well, first time Webinar leader and all that. Regardless, there's tons of useful information that can help you expand your understanding of the query letter.)
If you want more info, check out my Agent/Query Tutorial.
New agents, more than the veterans, are looking for you! They need/want talented clients in order to become established. They need/want to sign up competent writers who have written salable stories so they can create income to keep food on the table and keep them in yoga classes, or scuba gear, or whatever. One thing to look for is the stability and longevity of the agency they represent. If they'd opened their doors the day before yesterday with no industry track record, you'll be smart to perform due diligence before signing on the dotted line.
Once upon a time there lived a vast number of schizophrenic gate keepers. By day, they were known as literary agents, who made deals over three-martini lunches with friendly publishers, while dumping query submission packets onto the desks of over-worked and underpaid interns.
Rumors circulated that, in the dark of night, agents scampered into the forest to meet with their dastardly cohorts. They’d cook up a pot of eyes-of-newt stew, adding additional ingredients too yucky to identify. They’d rub greedy little hands together with “Mwaaaahahha,” while celebrating the writers they’d rejected with, “Sorry, not right for our list.”
I’m constantly amazed at how many writers think of agents as cruel little gnomes who shout “NO-NO-NO-NO-NO” as they break the hearts of author wannabees.
The truth is that agents are pragmatic business people who use their best judgment to acquire well-written manuscripts that can be polished, printed, and sold for a profit. Publishing, just like every business, must generate profits to survive.
Therefore, if your submission is filled with red flags that identify you as a “rookie,” the question arises, “Will it be cost effective to assign an editor to correct the grammar? Will this effort make the manuscript worthy of publication? The probable answer? "No."
So, be smart. Your success depends on expending the necessary time and effort to identify and eliminate your writing mechanic errors from your work. Otherwise, you increase the probability that the manuscript you’ve lovingly crafted will never become a book that occupies shelf space at Barnes and Noble.
Eve Porinchak of the Jill Corcoran Agency:
COMMENT from the Publishing Wizard:
This listing came directly from Writers’ Market. The submission process is a bit different than the one given on the agency website. Why? To identify the source, in this case, Writers' Market. This will make your query high priority. It'll land on top of the electronic slush pile instead of at the bottom..
She admits to having eclectic literary tastes and is open to everything from picture books to adult novels. Specifically looking for edgy, psychological thrillers, gang-lit, realistic contemporary. Some of Eve's favorite books are: True Notebooks by Mark Salzman, Monster by Walter Dean Myers, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers, The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson, This Is For The Mara Salvatrucha, Inside The MS-13 by Samuel Logan. Eve is not a fan of high fantasy; however, she loves the Hunger Games and science fiction.
To submit: Send query letter, synopsis, and the first ten pages of your work (or entire picture book manuscript) to firstname.lastname@example.org. No attachments please.
Join me at the St. Pete FWA (Florida Writers' Association) meeting June 11, at 5:30 PM at the St. Pete main library. I'll be cold reading query letters. Bring yours!
My Oldsmar critique group will meet, for the first time, at 5:30 PM at the Oldsmar Library on June 15. Sponsored by the FWA, this group is open to the public. If you'd like to attend, contact me as the group is limited to 10 active members Writers who wish to audit are invited to do so, in "listen in" mode.
If you're a writer of non-fiction, join me for a mini-workshop on How to Land an Agent for your Non-fiction Book, sponsored by the FWA, on June 27th, in Altamonte Springs (near Orlando). For more information: https://floridawriters.net/conferences/mini-conferences/3rd-nonfiction/
If you’d like to re-post any of my blogs, help yourself. Please reference the source as: Molli Nickell. THE Publishing Wizard at www.getpublishednow.biz