One Writer’s Journey

October 6, 2017

Query Letters: What would you want to know?

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 4:00 am
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In about two weeks, I’ll be leading a workshop on query letters.  Here is what I’ve pulled together so far:

3 successful letters.  One is from a picture book author.  The other two are for novels.

I’ve put together a list of online resources.

I discuss the hook.  I compare it to the elevator pitch.  I still need to put together a “how-to” on elevator pitches but I thought that would be useful.

I discuss the story paragraph and what to include when you summarize the book.

Next I give them information about what “nuts and bolts” to include about the book — length, audience age level, genre, “will be enjoyed by readers of X.”

After this, I will talk about the “Why Me?” paragraph.  Why am I the perfect author for this book and how to include only pertinent credits and biographical material.

Then of course is the “Why You?” paragraph.  This is the one about “why you are THE agent for this book.”

Then I’ll go into the wrap up (thanks for reading) and signature (include pertinent social media info).

Can you think of anything else you would need to know?  I don’t want to leave anything out but I also want to leave time to workshop people’s letters and write elevator pitches of their books.




March 8, 2017

Query Letters: Connecting with the agent

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:04 am
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A query letter is a business letter.  Check.  That’s easy and straightforward enough that most of us get it.

A query letter is also the writer’s opportunity to connect with the agent.  But remember, it is still a business letter.

Did you hear the agent speak at a conference?  Then say so.  “When I heard you speak at the Mashed Mangoes SCBWI conference, your wish list included picture books about tropical fruit.  Enclosed…”  In much the same way I’ve reminded agents that we had dinner together as fellow conference speakers.

In much the same way, you should also let the agent know if your manuscript is a good match for a recent #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) post on Twitter or their profile listing on the Manuscript Wish List web site.  Just be sure to keep is short and simple.  “On March 2, 2017, your blog post included a call for …”  “Your February 22, 2017 #MSWL tweet …” You don’t have to quite them word for word.  Just mentioned the post, tweet or whatever.  This will let the agent know why you have chosen them and that you aren’t sending your work to every agent in the SCBWI directory.

But keep it business like.  If the agent likes dogs and you have a canine manuscript, say so but don’t gush on-and-on about man’s best friend.  If the agent tweeted about Firefly and you have a manuscript with the same feel, say so without confessing your undying love for Nathan Fillion or Gina Torres.

Loved her hair?  That’s awesome.  But keep it to yourself.

Think he has great taste in messenger bags?  Cool!  But don’t mention it.

You want to make a connection but you don’t want to come off stalker-ish, creepy or just plain strange.  I know, I know.  Most of us don’t need to be told that but my job at one conference was to follow the editor to the restroom and make sure no one bothered her while she was doing her business.  Yep.  I was a bathroom bouncer.

Make that connection but be professional.  As Cobra Bubbles would say in Lilo and Stitch, “Do I make myself clear?”


May 13, 2010

Keeping Queries Out of the Spam Filter

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:52 am
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As writers submit more and more of their work, both queries and manuscripts, electronically, spam filters gobble up various items before they can reach our editors.  How to keep your queries out of the spam filters?  Here are some tips:

  • Double check punctuation and spelling.  Spelling and punctuation errors trigger filters (check your spam and you’ll see why).  They also annoy editors!
  • Keep the look of your message clean and simple.  Colored backgrounds and fonts as well as large fonts and a very little text with a lot of images can trigger filters.
  • Words that trigger filters include click, free, guarantee, compare rates, collect child support, great offer, promise you, and opportunity.

Actually, I was shocked when I searched for filter triggering phrases (see list here).  It could make it pretty tough to pitch an article guaranteed to increase traffic to your site or blog.  Or a piece about collecting child support or finding outstanding values in education.  I’ll have to noodle this over some more — not that I was planning to pitch any ideas along those lines, but what if I wanted to . . .


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