Pub Rants

Practical Query Magic?

 8 Comments |  Share This:    

STATUS: It’s a rare, rainy day in Denver. As long as it stays rain and doesn’t turn to snow…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WHY? by Tracy Chapman

I ran out of time yesterday before I could share some of the practical help we offered to the attendees of the Women’s fiction panel at Pikes Peak.

So what if you have an overdone theme for your novel. You can still make your query stand out by highlighting some other elements that spotlight the uniqueness of your story.

And I imagine some of these points could apply to more beyond women’s fiction. In case it helps, here’s a list.

Top 5 Things you can do to make your Query stand out:
1. Have the pitch in your query match your tone/voice of your manuscript
2. If using a common theme, highlight what would make your women’s fiction work stand out.
3. If the events are based on a real life story you read or heard about, sometimes that can be an interesting tidbit to include. If that gave you the “what if” question that you then explored in your novel.
4. Readers of XYZ authors would also enjoy this work and then explain why.
5. Highlight something that makes the main characters unique.

8 Responses

  1. Victoria Dove said:

    No snow in NE. Just lots and lots and lots of rain. And wind. And did I mention rain?

  2. Laura said:

    I don’t know about comparing your writing to published authors. Imagine saying “Readers of Anne Rice will enjoy Fangbangers because it’s about vampires.” One, it’s wrong to assume you’re on the same writing level as Anne Rice. Two, it will cause the agent reading the query to laugh all the way to the wastebasket.

  3. Tiffany said:

    What, no advice on not giving your work some hackneyed, overused title…? 😉
    Sure did enjoy meeting you in Pikes Peak, Kristin (despite your unprovoked title attack…). Thanks again for everything–your great workshops, fun energy, and time for all of us.

  4. Anonymous said:

    I’d heard similar bad things about author comparisons. I suppose if you do use it, it’s advisable to be very specific (e.g. not: Mark Twain meets Sir Conan Doyle meets Nora Roberts).

  5. Andrew said:

    It took me some time to learn #1. I’m pitching a nonfiction book with a light tone and attempts to be humorous, but my first query letter was all businesslike and bland. I got better responses once I loosened up a bit and had a little more fun with it.

    Victoria (7:14): It would be gimmicky to write your query in character, and possibly confusing–but I think what Kristin’s trying to say is that if the tone of your manuscript is dark and foreboding, make your query a little dark and foreboding, but if the tone of your manuscript is goofy, make your query goofy.

    Laura: I think there’s a difference between comparing your writing to a literary phenomenon and a literary success. Comparing yourself to Anne Rice might get that response, as would a comparison to Harry Potter or the Da Vinci Code. But if you can compare yourself to someone specific, someone whose success doesn’t overshadow their writing, I think that would make a good impression.

  6. Anonymous said:

    So, maybe for someone who’s new to the industry, and has no idea about the difference between sample pages and a query, what would you advise. I’ve seen you write about both, and a query seems to be a letter to a prospective agent regarding a book that you’ve already written. Sample pages seem to come after the query in the process and at the request of the agent. Is that true?