My Successful Query

Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by Tenderiser, Jul 4, 2016.

  1. Alex R. Encomienda
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    Alex R. Encomienda Active Member

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    Very nice!

    And what do you think is better, sending queary letters through email or post office? And who do you send to, publishers or agents themselves?
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Personally I would have given up on the book before I began sending out hard copy queries. Email all the way!

    You can query agents or you can submit to publishers who take unagented manuscripts. But if you want an agent, you should exhaust your options there before submitting to publishers. Manuscripts that have already been shopped around are less attractive to agents, unless maybe it was only very very small publishers.
     
  3. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Each agent has their own rules and content requirements. I posted my first seven queries last night. Most do NOT take either snail mail or attachments, though one specifically requested attachments. Samples of your work they usually request be pasted into the body of the e-mail. Six asked for between 5 and 10 pages of my work, one asked for 50 pages. One asked for a 2-3 page synopsis, and two asked for my detailed bio. I just joined Query Tracker which seems to be a good site for locating agents by genre, though I have used it exactly one day. The agents I chose last night came from an article in Writer's Digest, 13 agents requesting submissions in July, and their particulars.

    Review their preferences and tailor your query to them ("I chose you because of your interest in history and women's issues, my story..."). And note the genres they do NOT want. Many of them did not want fantasy, vampires or anything currently trending. Also note whether they are currently accepting submissions at all: QT will tell you that.

    Submitting directly to big publishers is not recommended, and many specifically say they do not accept over-the-transom submissions.

    My goal is to finish my remaining 6 queries, then one a night until I can't stand it anymore
     
  4. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    By clarification, they did not reply and ask for my work, their format for submission was to include it. The only answers I got were automated, "We'll get back to you" responses.
     
  5. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Modeled mine on yours, with a few tweaks.... got a request for a manuscript in 24 hrs flat! Thanks!
     
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  6. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    One of the things that @Tenderiser suggested that we use, was in the very first sentence explain to the agent why you picked him/her, what of their preferences they will find addressed in your book. In other words, let your first sentence be about them, not you and your work. That has seemed to yield a very high rate of very personal and supportive responses, even though two out of three were no. All specifically appreciated that I spoke to them as a person, not as agent x. And I thanked each and engaged in a polite exchange which gave me a lot of good advice.

    If you don't want a form letter reply, don't send a form letter query.

    Also good advice from one agent. Since my little ego was going flip flops this week, I posted my query progress on my author's face book. She suggested taking that down, because if your facebook page or anything else shows a long chain of rejects, it is a good reason for the next agent to reject you also, unread. If you need sympathy, bitch and moan on e-mail where only you and the addressees can see it.
     
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  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Oh dear. Four years to learn how to write and get my novel to a good place, nearing completion, and now I have to start on a whole new learning venture with the detailed or chapter by chapter synopsis.

    Oh well, it should help me tighten up the novel. I need more discipline, setting a certain amount of time aside to write every day. :write:
     
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  8. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    @GingerCoffee Is that a personal exercise you want to do? I didn't find any agents at all who wanted a chapter by chapter synopsis. Most of them like a short one of 1-2 pages.
     
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  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    @GingerCoffee - Yes, the plot thickens. Here is a fairly recent article on writing a synopsis, which seems to indicate that 1-2 pages is enough. I thought the formula of 1 synopsis page/25MS pages (as put out in the 2005 edition of The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, published by Writer's Digest) was a bit long. Yikes. However, the content and approach is the same as the author of that article suggested. Maybe requirements have changed within the past 10 years? Either that, or there is a difference between a 'long' and a 'short' synopsis. Perhaps the longer version may be required once an agent is interested in your work?

    https://janefriedman.com/novel-synopsis/

    @Tenderiser ...did you have any experience with the long/short synopsis dilemma? Did you have to write a synopsis at all?

    .........

    anxious thought: If 1-2 pages is the standard requirement, then what do we infer when the agents ask for a 'short' synopsis? A couple of paragraphs?
     
  10. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Each agent has their requirements for initial query submissions on their agency's website, and follow them precisely! Most want text embedded in the e-mail, not as attachments to avoid viruses. The nice thing about this is that page count is not obvious if you are a bit over.

    I did find one that requested a chapter by chapter synopsis as well as the first xxx pages. My editor suggested I have the following things ready for query:
    1. A general query letter, to be tailored to each agent as per @Tenderiser 's recommendations
    2. 1-2 page synopsis (in my case 3, I am verbose)
    3. Chapter by chapter synopses
    4. Biography, with emphasis on writing experience and other publications, tricky for me as I am an engineer! Perhaps they will be impressed with "Error detection and corrections in data transmissions?" published 25 years ago? Anyway, it is in there, along with presentations on special relativity (my other hobby) to the American Assn of Physics Teachers.

    The synopsis should be different from the description in the query letter. The query letter should contain something like what you see on a book jacket, just enough information to pique your interest without giving away the story.

    The synopsis is the full story line and the main conflicts in the story, their resolution and includes giving away the ending. That I found hardest to write, and wound up giving it to my wife. She knew the story as well as I but was less emotionally tied to it. Then I tweaked it. It will take you two or three days max.

    Chapter synopses are two or three sentences describing what happened in each chapter, and was my largest product (@35 pages), but my editor had previously had me prepare one for her first edit last December.
     
  11. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, quite a few of the agents who requested my partial/full wanted a synopsis as well. Some of them didn't specify length, others specified one page. It's worth noting I sent the synopsis along with my full to Amanda and Michelle.

    I've since had to write a synopsis for my second novel; one of the editors we submitted #1 to asked for a synopsis of the second (as Amanda's pitch mentioned it was the first in a series).

    When they say 'short' I sent the one pager, although the two pager probably would have been fine. I think they just don't want people sending a mammoth chapter-by-chapter one.
     
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  12. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I get the impression from what I'm reading online about synopses, that the requirements have changed fairly recently, and are more in line with your experience.

    The formula the chapter in the Writer's Digest novel book recommends equates to a 400-page (the usual Courier, double-spaced submission page template) novel requiring a 16-page synopsis. No mention was made of a 'short synopsis' at all. I thought that 1/25 ratio was pretty heavy, but the Writer's Digest people certainly know the market. However, this book was published in 2002, 14 years ago. I'll see if I can buy an updated copy. Good to know what I'm up against.

    The chapter did mention that a synopsis should not be done chapter by chapter, though. It should be done in chronological order, but should be a straightforward re-telling of the story without reference to how the book is actually set up.

    Actually, writing a synopsis is a good exercise. I'm working on one myself at the moment, and it's helped me to focus on certain story elements that probably need a bit of tweaking in the story itself. I need a bit LESS mystery near the start of the 'present day' part of the story, which will make my revision of the penultimate chapter a lot easier. So it's been beneficial.

    ........
    Ah, just checked. There is a newer version available that was published in 2010. And an even newer one that's due out in January 2017. I've pre-ordered that one, and will probably order the 2010 model as well. I assume these will cover the time span where the shift from paper submission to online submissions is more or less complete.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2016
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  13. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    @jannert I think you're right on the money. When I was writing mine I found a few sites with romance book synopses that were more like 7-10 pages, but all of them had been written and published in the early 2000s.

    I've found it easier to write synopses and queries BEFORE the novel is written, when I still have some distance from it. Obviously that's not an option for anybody who writes their novel and then decides to submit it, but I think it's a good exercise.
     
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  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    You're not a pantser, then. :)
     
  15. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Well, you know my thoughts on THAT debate. :D
     
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  16. Maggieway
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    Maggieway New Member

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    Congratulations, I love your query. To the point and precise. I like your advice that it doesn't have to be perfect - ultimately the purpose is to get the agent to read your book. Like a blurb, really.
     

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