Sorry to post so late today. The flu is not fun:(
Anyway, today's intro will be some basic tips about what a query letter should include. Each workshop for the next couple of weeks will deal with specific aspects of the query letter. By the time the workshop is over, you will no longer hate the big Q!
Do you know what the definition of technique is and what technique really means?
Definition of technique: a question, esp. one addressed to an official or organization, a way of carrying out a particular task, esp. the execution or performance of an artistic work or a scientific procedure.
What about query? Do you know what it means?
Definition of query: used in writing or speaking to question the accuracy of a following statement or to introduce a question.
There is a correct way to write a query letter and it's important you know how to do it in the right way.
First things first. Your book proposal should be treated as a professional business opportunity. I have heard this more than once. For me, this is the hardest part. I have a tough time presenting myself in a professional manner. Why? Because I look as everyone as a FRIEND. I use way too many exclamation points! and I always hold conversations in a bubbly way. So, for me, I started this workshop with a reminder to BE PROFESSIONAL.
I can attest that I have proved this. For every letter I have sent out with a "friend conversational tone" I have either not received an answer or got a rejection. For every letter I have sent with a professional tone, I have gotten a request. So, there you have it. BE PROFESSIONAL. There will be plenty of time for friendly chats with your editor or agent after the book deal has been made.
Next tip: Research your agent. Every agent is different. Some may prefer an intro at the beginning of the letter, some prefer you to jump right into the story. Some may want a nice informative bio about the author, others may not want to anything other than publishing credentials. So it is IMPORTANT to know the agent you are querying and what he/she prefers. Google their name and their agency and read everything you can read about them. Read interviews and blog posts. Follow them on Twitter.
Yes! I have Twitter now and so far I'm lovin' it! I love reading the tweets of authors and agents and editors. You learn AMAZING things about them!
Third tip: Spell the agents name correctly. The first time I read this tip, I thought. "What kind of jerk would spell an agents name wrong?" Well, my first ever letter was in a contest. For the life of me I cannot remember how I heard about the contest. But I entered and at the same time I entered another contest. MY first two ever. Boy, I was going to win! I just knew everyone would gush over my sample! Well, I won the first portion of the first contest! I was so excited!! The agent forwarded my entry to me with instructions for the next phase, and there in black in white were the words, "Spelled name wrong" I about died! So I apologized and would you believe, I spelled it wrong AGAIN. How wretched. In my defense, I will say, auto spell check can be a bad thing, but still, is that REALLY an excuse?? (Ms. Agent, if you are reading this, I will say again, I'm sorry!)
So. Spell the agents name right!
To review: Be professional
Do your research
Spell the agents name correctly
Come back on the 10th and we'll discuss the juicy, creative parts of the query letter!
Have an amazing day, beautiful guys and dolls!