Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Online portal format-bio

Query manager has become almost the norm for agents to use. I have my dislikes about it, but my biggest question that has been daunting on me is this: Query manager asks for your query letter and your bio in two different boxes. Should the bio be kept in the query and than expanded further in the bio box? Or should it be removed completely from the query?

If there's a separate box for your bio, put all your bio info there.

Don't duplicate information in your submission.

This goes for any other boxes too: comps, pub credits, etc. for example.

I have a feeling that agents do this (have boxes for bio etc) because a lot of query writers either forget or just leave them out. 

Any questions?


S.P. Bowers said...

Some agents using query manager have begun asking for a one sentence pitch. Is this going to be the new normal? If I was good at them I would join in the twitter pitches, but I'm not. How much will having a terrible one line pitch (Yes, I do try, and I get feedback. I still stink.) affect my chances?

Steve Forti said...

Echoing SP. My one-sentence pitch is garbage.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

Yep, mine too.

Katja said...

Oooh, I love my one-sentence teasers.. only that I'm not querying...

And maybe one sentence is all I can do, LOL.

Sam Mills said...

I liked querying through Query Manager. XD I knew exactly which bits of the query each agent preferred, plugged into the order they wanted, without the endless hunt through old blogs and social media to find out if they love comps, hate comps, prefer housekeeping at the top or the bottom, etc. Bonus for being less likely to get lost in an email system.

Steve Forti said...

I was initially wary of Query Manager because if I could avoid including a synopsis, pitch line, comps, etc and stick to just the query and pages, that sounded great. But now I appreciate that agents using Query Manager you can be sure it was received and that you're likely to eventually get a response. NORMANs are no fun.

Colin Smith said...

I tend to concur with Mr. Forti's sentiments. While QM may not be ideal for everyone, anything that discourages NORMANs can't be a bad thing.

Perhaps we could make an informal agent-writer agreement? We, as writers, will go along with agents' requests for synopses, bios, comps, professional associations, contest wins, blood groups, and favorite colors, IF agents will promise to respond. 😁

Katja said...

And what if I have to leave the comps-box empty because I simply can't come up with any?

Is that a straight rejection when an empty box is flashing like that?

I know I won't find comps. I just know.

So does that mean I don't need to consider querying my 2nd novel?

AJ Blythe said...

Yes to what everyone has already said. Also, I've found it really helps when I am not sure what genres an agent is looking for - they only have the genres they represent in the drop-down genre box.

Katja, not all agents require comps. Just don't query those that specifically have a comp box on their Query Manager submission page if you are worried.

Nom de plume said...

Unfortunately, in my experience, Query Manager didn’t eradicate NORMANs. I did like that it sends a receipt when the query or submissions are received.

Craig F said...

I ran 5 queries through Query Manager and got responses on all of them. It did take one agent 14 weeks to do it, though.

Three agents had auto-response. One of those did nothing else.

Belated congrats toKD James

Uber belated congrats and condolences to Tim Lowe

MA Hudson said...

Katja - I also have trouble finding comps but I definitely think it's better to put something in that box, even if it's not perfect. If you ignore their request for comps then agents might assume you're difficult to work with.
Janet's done a few posts on comps which are very helpful - especially to remind us that comps are just meant to help an agent imagine where your book should sit in a bookstore.
Good luck! Comps are one of the hardest parts of a query letter.

JEN Garrett said...

Coming up with that log line is murder! Even if you're not writing a physiological thriller.

What I do is pare my entire manuscript down to [Main Character] has [Goal/Desire] but can't because [obstacle/antagonist], and if [Succeed/Fail] then [Stakes]. This is not a good pitch, but it gives me the pieces for a good pitch - and also helps me see if I really have a story or just 50K words of description.

As for comps, agents want to know where your book will fit on the bookshelf. If there really are no good comps, what gap in the market is your book going to fill? (Do you have a fresh new take on an evergreen topic?) If you can't answer any of these questions with at least two titles, then agents might have to work harder to answer those questions themselves. Some will, others won't.

Harry Potter broke the mold, but even it had comp titles of middle grade witches going to witch school.

All that said, I'm having trouble finding comps for my manuscripts, too!

Ooh, comment too long, Janet? I'll try to be less verbose next time.

JEN Garrett said...

New Thought: (Sorry Janet)

In lieu of log lines, I sometimes just focus on my hook.

Example: Clara has one word to save the entire universe from being torn apart, if she can find it.

(Doctor Who fans will recognize this hook.)

Katja said...

Thanks so much, AJ Blythe and MA Hudson.

I think I would have to go with AJ's advice or indeed 'ignore' that box (I would regard it as not losing anything, at least).

It isn't that I would choose to ignore the comps - I would be forced to.
If an agent makes assumptions about me as suggested that I am difficult to work with, I'd find it disappointing.

It would be my assumption in return that an agent is SURE that just because I haven't filled in comps, my work would not worth a look at.
They might think I am too lazy to think about comps. They might think I am so 'arrogant' and think that there is no other book like mine and that it's all new stuff and totally amazing.

But it would be neither of that and I hope I am not difficult to work with.

Here is the true reason why I will NOT be able to provide comps:

I have read 11 (ELEVEN!) books in English. Two this year, and I'm hoping to get to the point THIS year where I can read book number 12. It is by Lee Child, my first one by this author (it says Jack Reacher on the cover, so I have gathered from context here that it's a series, and hopefully it doesn't matter whether or not this is the first book in the series - I have no idea!).

I only started being interested in writing in 2014. I only started reading in late 2017, and I am one of the slowest readers you can imagine (I usually scribble some notes on the pages while reading as well).
I only started seriously speaking English in 2006 (okay, that's been a while now, LOL).

I will not be able to fill in comps. Does this make me difficult to work with?

Does it mean I am a crap writer because I have only read so few books?

It would be sad if an agent 'clicked me away' because of no comps. But I shall be prepared for this. 😭

Katja said...

Oh, my log line for my first book is:

"Sometimes you just HAVE to get rid of your best friend."

And the one for my second will be (I thought I start it with "sometimes" again, since it is linked to the first book):

"Sometimes it is the OTHERS who turn you into a liar."

If only I could stick those into the comp box instead. 🤣