It's been a while since I addressed
simple query writing tips, so here
are a few of my pointers on
writing good queries.
1. Give us something with voice. Agent Dan Lazar once said it like this. "Instead of saying 'Jane Smith is tall, blonde, pretty and lives in New York,' try 'Manhattanite Jane Smith turns heads wherever she goes and hasn't paid for a drink since high school.'" Both sentences are essentially saying the same thing, but the second version 1) paints a picture, and 2) establishes voice in the query.
2. If you have self-published a book or two in the past, you have to come clean and say so. You can, however, mention this at the very end and not even say the title of your previous book. It's a way of having honest disclosure but trying to keep the focus on your new project.
3. State your credits quickly. If you won first place at a writers conference young adult contest, great. Just mention it quickly. If you've published articles, say so concisely. Try this: "I've written articles for variety of regional and national publications, including the Cincinnati Enquirer and Writer's Digest." Simple and to the point.
4. Try not to say "My novel is." Instead of saying "My novel is full and twists and turns," prove that it is by showing it in your pitch. It's a simple matter of showing vs. telling.
5. Avoid comparisons to the biggies. Comparing your work to other books is always a little tricky and dangerous, but above all, avoid the cliches that everyone else is saying. These include the following: Harry Potter, Twilight, Janet Evanovich, Stephen King and The Da Vinci Code. I'd also include Eat, Pray Love here because it is slowly approaching cliche status.
Want more on this subject?
- Should you mention your age in a book query?
- 20 tips on query letters, from agent Janet Reid
- Check out the Writer's Digest Guide to Query Letters
- What should you write in the bio of your query?
- Confused about formatting? Check out Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript.
- Read about What Agents Hate: Chapter 1 Pet Peeves.
- Want the most complete database of agents and what genres they're looking for? Buy the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents today!