Words of Wisdom: Let Your Writing Sell the Work

Q. What’s the biggest mistake a writer makes when contacting you (about a novel)?

“Trying to be a salesman never works for me; the material has to speak for itself. A writer who tells me everything he or she is going to do to promote a book doesn’t work either. Tell me what you’ve already done, not what you want to do. Other than Jonathan Franzen, I’ve never known an author who said ‘I do not want to be on Oprah.’ “

- Harvey Klinger of Harvey Klinger Inc.

“Any author who thinks he can ‘sell’ me on his book is mistaken. Sales jazz in a query letter is just noise. After (so many) years in this business, I can spot a good project a mile away, and nobody needs to do anything spectacular to grab my attention. Let the book speak for itself by shaping a concise and appealing one-page query letter.

- James C. Vines of The Vines Agency, Inc., both excerpted from the 2005 edition of GLA.

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