Thursday, January 12, 2012

Target practice for shooting yourself in the foot

I was merrily reading queries this morning, and came upon one that Zinged! my interest.  I slowed down, read more carefully.  Wow, this is interesting! It's about an event I've never heard of, that sounds like it could be a really interesting book of narrative non-fiction.  I've got my eye peeled for good narrative non-fiction these days.

Then suddenly...splat.  The query isn't for non-fiction. It's for a novel. I'm so disappointed I want to write back to the querier and say "write about that event!!" But I don't.

The foot shot is this: when you open a query with information that IS NOT IN YOUR BOOK you run the very real risk of splat!  You don't want me too disappointed about what your book is NOT to read your query.

I can't say this often enough: your query is about YOUR book. Tell me who the characters are and what choices they face.  If there's a real world event that has an impact on your book, tell me about it in the context of your book--in other words LATER not sooner in the query.

8 comments:

Ali Trotta said...

That feels so misleading! No wonder there was a SPLAT. Wow, I typed 'splay.' Totally different sentence. *dashes off to get more coffee*

Melinda said...

I'm dying to know what the event was now that pinged your interest.

Janet Reid said...

Melinda, I thought about including that but I didn't want the querier to be identifiable.

Just to torment you: it was a really cool event!

Lynne Kelly said...

Did the event have anything to do with the novel? I'm wondering how they segued from the interesting-sounding event to their actual query, and why they were even writing about an event that doesn't appear in their book. Baffling.

Kristin Laughtin said...

Seconding Lynne Kelly's comment. I think you've piqued all our interests now with this post! I'm trying to imagine how this query could have been written. "Here's this really cool event. OK, I wrote a novel where something happens kinda like that thing, but not really."

Janet Reid said...

Kristin, you're pretty darn close.

JoSVolpe said...

Here, here!

BobbieNoSocks said...

Good advice for me... I've been trying to get an agent's attention(OK any agent's attention) with my novel.