Don’t Put Me to Sleep!

Don’t Put Me to Sleep! Hi Rachelle, I’m working on a book proposal, and was wondering if I should interject my personality/humor into it? Or are they usually personality minus? I believe I tend to write better when I can be humorous and use my own voice. Thoughts…? Signed, Don’t Want To Bore You     Dear Don’t Want, Would YOU rather read something that was intentionally dry and boring, or something fun and funny? What would most likely sell YOU on buying a book? It’s CRUCIAL that queries and proposals include your personality… or at least the personality of your book. Draw me in. Make it so that I’m DYING to read your book. Don’t bore me! Sincerely, Boring Agent Does your query or proposal have some personality and life in it? Do you find this...
[ Read More → ]

When to Re-Query an Agent

When to Re-Query an Agent One of the most common questions I receive is, “When is is okay to send another query to an agent who previously passed?” Sometimes people are talking about re-sending a query for the same book that was already queried; the writer has either improved the query or improved the book and wants another shot. Other times, the question is referring to the timing on sending a different book to an agent that previously rejected a project. So here are my thoughts. First, whenever you are going to re-query, it’s a good idea to open your letter with a brief mention of your previous interaction with the agent, and an explanation of why you’re writing to them again. (BRIEF.) That way, if your name sounds familiar to the agent, they won’t be sitting their scratching their...
[ Read More → ]

How To Write A Query Letter

How To Write A Query Letter *The Definitive Guide* Query letters are a recurring theme here since every writer needs one, and there are hundreds of posts online full of query advice. But I wanted to give you a simple, straightforward set of instructions. Other places you can find specifics such as how to write a strong pitch for your book, or how to write an author bio. But here are the basics on queries. Queries should include the following three elements: Something about the book – enough to make the agent want more  Something about you – tailored as appropriate for your book The first 3 to 5 (or so) pages of the manuscript pasted into the email (IF the agent requests it in their guidelines, which I do) Tips for a great query: It starts with a few sentences designed to make me want to read your...
[ Read More → ]

Why Agents Don’t Give Reasons with Rejections

Why Agents Don’t Give Reasons with Rejections “Two Minute Tutorials” Ohmygosh! Another video! And guess what. I decided to name my video series “Two Minute Tutorials” and wouldn’t you know, today’s video is 3 minutes. C’est la vie, as they say. So this installment of “Two Three Minute Tutorials” answers the question, “Why Don’t Agents Give Reasons with their Rejections?” (I’m trying to get better at this vlogging thing… give me some time. I promise I’ll get better with practice!) Here’s a recap: 1. We get a LOT of queries and it takes quite a bit of time to go through them. 2. Brief explanations of the reason for a query rejection don’t tend to be helpful, and often bring up more questions than answers. 3. You may think it...
[ Read More → ]

Query Paranoia

Query Paranoia Writers often get freaked out by all our blogs and twitter posts about “bad” queries and big mistakes people make that can make them look…less than professional. But here’s the thing. If you’re reading blogs and books and getting yourself educated about how to get published, then I’m sure you’re going to be fine. You can stop worrying so much, because YOU are not the one making those really egregious mistakes. And even if you’re not perfect? Don’t sweat it. Believe it or not, agents can see through cliches, poor wording and other mistakes to identify good writing and strong book ideas. When we post all those silly things people say in queries, and write all those posts about “here’s what NOT to do,” we’re just trying to...
[ Read More → ]

How to Get an Agent (NOT!)

How to Get an Agent (NOT!) 13 Ways to Screw Up Your Query 1. Address your letter to Dear Sir/Madam or Dear Agent or To Whom It May Concern. 2. Write “I believe you are the perfect agent for me” even though it’s obvious the same email was sent to fifty agents. 3. Pitch a mainstream novel of 40,000 words… or 250,000 words. Most agents won’t look at it. Pay attention to appropriate word counts! 4. Start your query with a rhetorical question: “What if…?” or “Have you ever wondered…?” or “Why is it that…?” It’s cliché. 5. Say “I am a previously published author” and then list several self-pub companies as your publishers. 6. Pitch a non-fiction book without giving any of your credentials or platform...
[ Read More → ]

The Dreaded Author Bio

The Dreaded Author Bio More mail! Dear Rachelle, an agent I’m interested in querying requires “a brief bio or résumé.” For published authors, this has got to be a leg-up, and I completely understand why an agent would want this, but for those of us with no prior publishing experience it’s a nightmare. How do we stay professional and still market ourselves effectively? I could write something like, “John Smith is a high school English teacher. He lives in Independence, Oregon. He’s never been published before, possibly because he can’t write a flattering bio.” Please rescue me from myself. Signed, A Teacher, But Who Cares? Dear Teacher, I care, I care! I love teachers. Teachers are the bedrock of society. Anyone who teaches high school English...
[ Read More → ]

Can’t Hit Send?

Can’t Hit Send? A writer emailed me:The novel is finished, the query letter is drafted, the synopsis is as tight as I can get it, and I still can’t bring myself to hit that damned “send” button. I’m sure you see the work of many writers who query too eagerly and make bone-head mistakes… I’m trying to avoid making one of those blunders right now. I have a feeling a lot of writers can relate to this. There’s always a nervousness that comes with putting yourself out there, especially if you’ve been preparing for a long time. I’ve been thinking about this from my own perspective lately. I had a great conversation with a friend over lunch where we tried to identify the things that hold us back in our work. We tried to be really honest about our fears...
[ Read More → ]

Why, Oh Why, Did I Get Rejected?

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/TJkZQbdlLHI/AAAAAAAAEFc/5VHBrFDNdg8/s320/confused.jpg Yesterday’s blog post asking writers what annoys them yielded lots of helpful comments, and a smattering of familiar complaints. Julie Geistfeld wrote that she wants a “reason” with her rejection letters. But, she says – she’s not asking for much – just “one word, maybe two” of explanation at the end of a form rejection. A “simple category,” she says. That’s not asking too much, is it? Julie expanded her plea to agents in this blog post. Well, sorry to tell you this, Julie (and everyone else who yearns for explanations for their rejections). But it is asking too much. The necessity to add “a word or two” of explanation could potentially triple or quadruple the time it takes for us to respond to each query....
[ Read More → ]

Want to Compose a Killer Pitch?

Want to Compose a Killer Pitch? I’m teaching a webinar for Writers Digest this Thursday at 1:00 pm EDT (90 minutes). “Critique Series: Pitches and Queries” I will teach about crafting an effective pitch and query letter. Then I’ll do real-time critiques of query letters and pitches. Everyone who registers will be able to send a pitch ahead of time for possible critique during the webinar. If I don’t get to yours in the online presentation, I’ll still give you a critique via email. The best part? You can attend even if you’re not available at that time. Everyone who registers will have online access to the webinar (audio and visual) for a full year afterwards. 4 Reasons to Attend My Webinar:(Shamelessly ripped from Chuck Sambuchino.) 1) You get a professional critique from an...
[ Read More → ]

Queries: Really Not That Complicated

http://www.rachellegardner.com//HLIC/8f4d24c78816c115240583cc208db6b2.jpg In the comments to Friday’s post, February Grace said: “I wish that there was a standard query procedure to follow. That’s all. A uniform cover letter plus a sample from the work or synopsis or both.”First, I want to apologize on behalf of all agents, because apparently we’ve made it seem way too hard. It’s not. It’s the ultimate in simple. We all DO want basically the same things, with the only major difference being that some agents want sample pages in the query, and some don’t. Other than that, here’s what we want: A reasonably intelligent letter, addressed to us personally, that pitches the book in a way that makes it sound interesting and makes us want to read it. If the book is non-fiction, then a bit about the author and the...
[ Read More → ]

Writing a Series

(Today’s peek into my mailbox.) Dear Rachelle, I’ve been writing a series of novels, and have completed six books. My question is: How do I go about submitting a series? I have a query that describes the series an includes an excerpt from each book. Would this be the correct way to present the series? Or should I just send a query for the first book in the series? Signed, Prolific *** Dear Prolific, Congratulations on finishing so many books. Definitely a great accomplishment! Most professionals in the industry would advise you to write only the first book in the series, or maybe the first two, then perhaps leave the others in outline or synopsis stage. The problem is that if you don’t sell the first one, you may not be able to sell any of the others unless they can...
[ Read More → ]

Query Critique: Iron Makeover

(This is the first of the query critiques I’ll be doing over the next few weeks, probably one or two a week. Look for them on Wednesdays and sometimes Thursdays. Please bear in mind that these will be longer than my typical posts. ) The Query: Hi there! I’m seeking representation for my 60,000-word non-fiction manuscript IronMakeover: As an Overweight Mom I Battled Fear, the Clock, and Expectations to Become an Ironman Triathlete… Come Along for the Ride. When a woman finishes her first triathlon (swim+bike+run) it changes her worldview. It changes her perception of what’s possible. She’ll be a stronger, wiser, happier woman, mother, sister, daughter, friend and employee. Training for a triathlon of any distance (sprint to Ironman) helps reshape a woman’s body, family and...
[ Read More → ]

It’s a Relationship

Last month I wrote a post on the Top Ten Query Mistakes. The first two points were all about personalizing your query to the agents. They were: #1. Not making me special, and #2. Not caring who I am. Now if you didn’t know me, those might seem like kind of narcisistic statements, and believe me, I did receive some flak for them. But I hope most people who read my blog know that I have a sense of humor, I don’t take all of this so deadly seriously, and I say things like “Not making me feel special” with a big grin. It’s kind of a joke, you know? Just a silly way to make my point. But the point remains that there is value in personalizing your query. It’s not a must, just a suggestion. I realize you’re trying to get an agent, and it behooves you to...
[ Read More → ]

« Previous Entries Next Entries »

line
Site by Author Media © Rachelle Gardner.