I have a question prompted by Monday’s post where you complained about people not sending pages…
So agents like to keep us on our toes, some like a synopsis, some like a query, some like a belly rub, some are strictly scratch behind the ears only. Some ask for pages, some don’t…
Would it be a really bad idea to just always send pages? If you’re sending 100% of the correct information asked for, is it a terrible, terrible thing to send extra? Are you saving time if they want to read more, or are you showing that you can’t follow rules and shooting yourself in the foot?
Now that I’ve written this out, I suspect there is no real answer, it will just depend on the agent, and how good or bad a day they’re having!
You're right. It's impossible to know the answer. I think agents who discard queries that don't follow guidelines to the nth degree are missing some good stuff, but I throw out stuff that has a synopsis rather than pages, so there's that.
I think pages are always a good idea, but some agents are hugely prickly about sending only what is asked for.
If an agent doesn't ask for pages, and you just have to send pages, at the very least, put them at the BOTTOM of the email. And leave out "I know you didn't ask for it but here are pages" cause that just alerts me to the fact you KNOW what I want and don't care.
If someone is sending me a synopsis (which I don't ask for) and it's the first thing I see after the query, well, sayonara baby, it's a pass.
If someone sends me a synopsis AFTER the pages, I don't read it, but I do read the pages.
There are ways to break the rules without shooting yourself in the foot.
As for #2: Wow! Why would anyone ever, ever comment on someone's photo? As a lady person, this would cause me to press to reject button, no matter how excellent the query.
You are so so right. When this query got passed around, you could hear the ice forming on keyboards and strangled yelps of outrage.
My best guess is this query writer thought he (of course it was a he) was being folksy and charming. What lady doesn't like being told she's attractive? In other words, he's tone-deaf, and clueless. Just exactly what I'm NOT looking for in an author (or anyone actually.) If you are a gentleman and worried about sounding clueless and tone-deaf, you're probably fine. The C and TD are noted for being oblivious, not worried.
When writing the story portion of the query letter, is it wrong to treat it as if you're writing a back-of-book blurb in that you want to entice the agent the same as if you'd want to entice the reader? Or are there more elements to consider in the query (not including the word count, comps, and bio)?
The reason I don't say "use the back of a book cover, or flap copy, as a model" is that often they sound like reviews.
This is Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin
Notice the "transport you" and "one of the most beautiful and extraordinary stories of American literature." Neither of those are things you want to include in a query.
This is Jilo by JD Horn
Everything's jake until that last paragraph.
Both examples are very well-written jacket copy.
They're just not the best thing to say in a query.
If your novel is high-concept, is having the query/pitch/idea on public display problematic?No.
You have seen it for yourself here on the blog: five prompt words and not a single story is duplicated.
Authors worry about this a lot because they think it's the concept that sells the book.
It's the concept that gets me to READ the book.
How you develop that concept, write your characters, get plot on the page, surprise me: that's how I sell the book.
I could hold a flash fiction contest with a very good high concept idea, and I'll bet you painting my apartment for me that no two entries would be similar enough to look plagiarized.