Wednesday, October 02, 2019

"Don't sound like an agent"

While scanning the website of a small press recently, I ran across a submission requirement instructing authors to ensure that their cover letters not sound like agent queries. Is this an editorial pet peeve or is there a significant difference between an agent query and the type of cover letter you might submit to a press?

I often put something in a pitch letter akin to this knocked my sox clean off, which a writer would not say  (SHOULD NOT SAY!)

They might mean taking a more personal tack than an agent would.
I wrote this book cause .... 
Small presses can be one-person editorial acquisition outfits, thus their guidelines more personal preferences than industry standard.

It sure would be helpful if they'd given you some examples wouldn't it?

You can go crazy trying to suss out what this means.

The best way to handle this is make sure your query talks about the story.  Everything after that is just decoration on the cake.


Amy Johnson said...

What a way cool, sharky cake! Love it!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I want cake. I want that cake.

LynnRodz said...

Omg! Let's have a party and eat that cake. I want a slice right now!

Amy Johnson said...

I'm in! I'll get right on decorating. Shark theme!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

oooo. A party? I'm there. I'll bring the whisky. Hm...perhaps a coffee bar with barista is better for the morning.

Fearless Reider said...

From now on, I’m writing all my queries in the third person as rave reviews. Isn’t that what Janet said?

If that cake isn’t blood-red velvet inside, I’ll be sorely disappointed.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Do they want the cover letter to be more like a short story cover letter, ostensibly letting the story stand on its own vs. a full-on query letter, with all of its fraught and blurb-y glory? That's the only way I can make that requirement make sense, and would actually be kind of a relief.

Lennon Faris said...

I'm guessing this mainly applies to nefarious people trying to sound like something they're not, and on purpose. My guess is that OP doesn't have to worry.

Ooh, Fearless Reider - with those little white candies shaped like bones they sell around Halloween, mixed into the batter!

Katja said...

Oh, don't sound like an agent! No, I won't (hopefully!) - how dare I ;).

Last night, I finished editing a video for my little YouTube channel. On YouTube, there is a relatively new community, called AuthorTube/BookTube. People make videos on all sorts of things - writing tips/errors, reviewing books, and... YES... going on about other authors in that community and what they do (right and wrong).

In my last video, I'm reviewing a book (um, the one I recently mentioned here on the blog that seemed to have 'broken' a few writing rules). I explain what I think is 'correct' and what 'isn't'. But WHAT does actually give me the qualification to do so??
I haven't got ANY.

But, because we should have a platform, I've got to fill it with something. So I have tried to speak in the way "What *I* have learned about writing..."
I do not want to sound like an agent, nor a publisher/editor/etc. I don't want to brag even though I have to 'sell' myself.
It's tough. And it comes across in the way I talk - meekly, slowly (okay, this is because I constantly try NOT to mess up with the English grammar... but then I DO ;) ).

There are LOTS of confident women out there on AuthorTube. Seemingly knowing everything about writing. Sounding like agents... err professionals. Telling you the rules number 1, 2, 3 to do and what not to do. Then I read the reviews of their (self-)published books. Crap. Lots of them crap, with people saying "they've not followed anything of their own advice, they sounded like they knew".

I don't want to get feedback like that. I still haven't uploaded that video I finished last night...