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  1. PaulKemp24
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    PaulKemp24 Member

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    Beginning of a query letter

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by PaulKemp24, Jan 17, 2013.

    Instead of starting off my query letter by introducing my book and giving a summary, would it be ill-advised to instead start off by mentioning my target audience and talking briefly about the market?

    Then after stating my case about the market I would get right into the introduction and summary of my book.

    I'm writing my first draft for my query and I feel like my biggest selling point is the market -- there just really aren't a whole lot of books out there about this subject matter for this age range (7-10). So I feel like that lack of competition is a point I want to hammer home. I know its a good idea to make your case for marketability in a query and everything I've read and researched about queries suggests putting this a little further down in the letter.



    What do you think? Yay or nay?
     
  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, first of all, remember there's a ton of contradictory advice out there about query letters, so beware...

    But, with respect to your specific question -- there's not really a dearth of subject matter for MG, which is your genre, so you want to query agents who are specifically seeking MG. You're right that it's important to know your target market, and that should go in your query, but since you're going to be seeking an agent who represents that market, telling them about the market isn't necessarily helpful. You want to emphasize your particular story -- that's what they want to know, first and foremost. And they'll know that the subject matter is unique for that market, since that's what they spend their days dealing with.

    One thing I hear over and over again with respect to query letters, is get to the story. So get that information out there first. (Of course you do need to be sure to mention early on that your book is MG.)
     
  3. PaulKemp24
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    PaulKemp24 Member

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    Thanks for the reply. When I said "market" I guess what I really meant was "subject matter" or "topic." My bad. I'll be a little more specific....

    I have a LG/MG piece of fiction about golf. There are a lot of sports fiction books for kids on things like baseball, football, basketball and soccer (think Mike Lupica or Matt Christopher). But there is next to nothing out there for golf. A ton of adult golf books but very few for kids. There are millions of kids in that age range participating in golf and yet there are so few golf books out there for them. So I wanted to sort of hammer this point home as a selling point.

    I was able to dig up some statistics about the number of kids being introduced to golf every year through things like "The First Tee Program" (a non-profit that introduces the game of golf to kids in inner city schools) and other such info relating to the number of kids who are playing golf and how much the sport is growing in that age range.

    Do you think I should start off my query with this selling point? Or should the story itself first and foremost always be the main selling point?
     
  4. Kat Hawthorne
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    Kat Hawthorne Member

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    Hi PaulKemp,

    This has been my experience with query letters: you need your actual writing to be what sells your piece - that is the most important thing you have to offer. It won't matter how few books are written on the subject if your work sucks. You need to let the publisher know that while you have recognized a hole in the market, your writing is so awesome, they won't be able to resist it - oh, and happens to fill the void. Mention it, but it needs to be the story that peaks their interest, just like a hook, right at the beginning of your letter. Chances are, if they are in-tune with the market (which they will be) you won't need to mention the hole you've spotted - they will already know about it.

    If it were me, I'd mention it briefly in my introductory sentence (ie. Dear Whoever, "Get With The Club" is a work of literary fiction consisting of 35000 words, and intended for readers aged seven to ten years. It tells the story of... something about golf), but I would definitely not get into statistics. Let your excellent work be what sells your manuscript.

    Good luck!
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, I would put the statistics in your letter -- I wouldn't lead with it, but I'd put it in there. It shows you've researched the market and are not only knowledgable, but indicates you're willing to market yourself. Yes, good writing is first and foremost what they're looking for. That's your lead. But adding the stuff about the number of kids playing golf, etc., is good.
     
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