Answering Questions about Queries

Answering Questions about Queries I get mail! My inbox is always filled with questions. Today I’m answering some I’ve received on the topic of Query Letters. You’ve said on your blog, “don’t pitch a novel unless it’s complete.” Do you feel the same about query letters? Do we only query completed works, or are ideas fair game? If you are sending a query to an agent, only pitch projects that are ready to go. If it’s a novel and you are not previously published with a mainstream commercial publisher, this means a completed manuscript. For non-fiction, a complete book proposal and two sample chapters will do. (But the more you’ve written, the better.) Think about it: If I read your query and I like it, the first thing you’ll hear from me is, “Please send a...
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Finding Comparable Books

Finding Comparable Books When you’re trying to interest an agent or publisher in your book, you’re often asked to provide “comps” — other books that could be compared to yours, or books that might compete with yours. A good book proposal always has a “Competition” or “Comparable Books” section, and even if you’re self-publishing, it helps if you give readers a frame of reference in the form of similar books.   One of the most common questions I’m regularly asked is, “How do I figure out what books to include in my comps?” People get all hung up on it, especially with fiction. Do I look for books with the same premise or plot? Same time period? Same writing style? How do I know what to include?   I’m going to make it easy...
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The Worst Storyline Ever Contest 2.0

The Worst Storyline Ever Contest 2.0 Guest Blogger: Chuck Sambuchino, editor and writer for Writer’s Digest, and host of the Guide To Literary Agents blog.   Here’s Chuck:   September 2015 sees the release of three of my new books, the 2016 Guide to Literary Agents, the 2016 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market, and the anti-clown humor book When Clowns Attack: A Survival Guide.   To celebrate their release, we are bringing back a popular recurring contest: The “Worst Storyline Ever”—a competition that encourages terrible loglines. Winners get prizes.   The “Worst Storyline Ever” Contest 2.0 A logline is one sentence that explains what your story is about and shows the “hook” – the unique idea that makes people want to see more. You see loglines all the time...
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Why You’re Getting Rejections

Why You’re Getting Rejections Awhile back, Nathan Bransford had a terrific post on “Why You Are Receiving Rejections.” He says if you keep getting rejections, it boils down to two reasons: either your query isn’t strong enough, or your query is fine but your project isn’t resonating with agents. So true! He’s nailed it! He’s absolutely right! But I have one thing to add. (Nathan, you’re awesome, I think you’re the coolest, so don’t take this wrong.) There’s another reality that goes beyond your query and your book. It’s the crowded marketplace. It’s the fact that there are hundreds of writers competing for each slot in traditional print publishing. Your query may need work. Your book may need work. OR… Your query and your book might be...
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Minimize the Obstacles

Minimize the Obstacles I’m blogging at Books & Such today. Here’s a preview: When you’re a debut author trying to break in to traditional publishing, one of the most important things to remember is this: Minimize the obstacles. You already know it’s not going to be easy to break in, so you want to avoid making it even more difficult on yourself. This is why agents give so much advice on their blogs. Not every piece of advice applies across the board to every author, but we’re trying to help you have the best chance of attracting an agent and publisher. Assuming you’ve written a terrific book… What are some possible obstacles to finding an agent and publisher? Read the post at Books & Such to find out. Click...
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