Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

#NLAquerytip #8

Status:

Seriously, it can’t be close to 7:30 at night and I’m still at the office….

Listening To:

BEAUTIFUL DAY by Joshua Radin

FACT: Spending time perfecting your novel’s pitch in your query letter is the gift that will keep on giving for the life of your novel.

Here’s why:

In publishing, simply put, a novel’s pitch is not just used once.

1) Writer creates the pitch for the query letter to get agent/editor attention.

2) Agent signs author, uses the pitch for Agent’s submission letter (or uses it as a base to to create a submit-oriented pitch for editors).

3) Editor loves the pitch, asks for the manuscript, reads it, loves it and now needs to get enthusiastic second reads. Editor will use the author/agent’s pitch to get second reads on board.

4) Second reads love it too. Editor now has to go to editorial board to pitch the novel to decision makers. You guessed it! Editor will use the pitch to generate excitement in this meeting so as to get permission and funding to buy it.

5) Editor buys novel and readies it for publication. The pitch is then shared with the catalog/jacket copy department to write the copy that will go on the book jacket or online for description of the novel.

6) Editor heads to Sales Conference with the pitch in hand. Time to get all the sales reps excited who are going sell-in the title to booksellers & libraries to generate the pre-orders that determine the initial print run and marketing dollars that will be spent on the book.

7) Sales reps hit the road. They use the pitch to get booksellers to read the Advanced Reading Copy (of which they get hundreds in any sell-in period).

8) Booksellers love it. Order copies for their stores. Book gets published and now booksellers will use the pitch to hand-sell to customers.

I think you get the picture. The pitch you are creating in your query letter is the second most important asset for your novel and directly impacts the success of your career. And just in case you are wondering, writing a great book is the number one most important asset.

No pressure or anything. LOL.


5 Responses

  1. Allen sawan said:

    I find harder to write the Q letter (pitch) than the manuscript. I am clueless. I am stuck, I don’t want to over sell or sound arrogant. Yet if I don’t, I can’t generate the excitement needed. Any advice?

  2. L. McKeough said:

    Allen, you should google Query Shark, a blog where agent Janet Reid critiques query letters (submitted to the blog for this purpose) and authors revise and resubmit based on her critique. Both the multi re-writes and the instant-wins are very helpful. Janet’s personal blog also answers submitted questions about queries (and other facets of writing). Janet and Kristin are my favourite agent blogs, both very illuminating about the whole query and agent process.

  3. Lynn said:

    Allen, I feel your pain, I’m the same way. I find writing a query letter harder than writing my WIP. I’ve been at it for over a year and a half. L.McKeough is right about Kristin and Janet, there’s a wealth of information on both their sites. However, if you send a query to the QueryShark, it’s not a guarantee that your query will be selected. As Janet, herself, says:

    “It’s harder to get a query posted on QueryShark than to get a request for a full, just FYI. In the course of a year I’ve read more than 200 fulls, and only posted 151 queries here at QueryShark.”

    Still, it doesn’t hurt to try.

    1. Lucy said:

      Allen, go to Absolute Write–www.absolutewrite.com/forums. Sign up as a member. Be prepared to behave yourself, as no garbage or name-calling is tolerated there. Join the conversations, ask questions and post 50 comments, preferably thoughtful ones. Do not skip this step. Get to know the forums.

      After 50 posts, go to the Share Your Work forum. Click on Query Letter Hell. Read the “sticky” warning titled “READ THIS DAMMIT.” You will then be able to submit your query for critique. It will be a learning process, probably painful. If you stick it out and don’t despair, you’ll learn a lot–and get to critique other people’s queries too.

      Best wishes from an AW Squirrel. 🙂

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