Friday, March 17, 2017

Agent. A five letter word.

I remember growing up and hearing my mom say, "Don't use four letter words" (cursing) because they aren't "nice."

What about five letter words like? AGENT or QUERY
Never having had an agent I can't say if they are naughty or nice, but I would think they are nice to have due to their wide experience with publishing, publishers, promoting, etc. Some are probably better than others, but if you don't have one you must do the job (to some extent) yourselves and keep the 15%, but it may be difficult to ingratiate yourselves into the industry when you don't have the connections. Networking is a huge part of getting published, the agent has those contacts. They are part of the inner circle (hopefully).

The word "Query" above is another "five letter word." Frankly, queries are difficult to write for me and many of my writing compatriots. You have one page to tell either the agent or publisher about you, your story, your credits if you have any, give them a flavor of your writing voice and encourage them to want more of you and your work. Advertisers say "that's easy" just wow them. Okay, but loud music, dancing girls, gooey chocolate, or gimmick's don't really work. Or so I've been told. The words have to do the dancing and whet the appetite.

Telling the agent or publisher you are the next Nora Roberts or your book is the next Fifty Shades of Gray in a query letter, just isn't going to cut it. We may be as good as Nora Roberts, but we aren't Nora - we are who we are and write with our own voice, which may or may not resonate with the masses. Our book may be even better than Fifty Shades of Gray - but will it appeal to audiences all over? Good question. What we do have to do is make the agent or publisher realize our work is good. It's a business letter with heart and imagination.

How do we do that? Answer these questions in your query:
  • What is the story about, the theme, or the problem that is addressed? 
  • Is there a quirky main character that you can introduce in the query?
  • Is your story similar to other very popular stories you can use as a comparison?
  • Why are you the best one to write this kind of story, your experience, or education? 
  • What have you published before so that you have a following?
  • What demographic does your story appeal to? Young Adults? Mystery buffs? Horse lovers?
That's a lot, so keep it short - to the point - punch it! How do you know you've done well with your query? Read it out loud. Critique groups can help you review it. And when you can't imagine your query sounding any better - send it! What have you got to lose? Because you may have written just what that agent has been looking for.

Enjoy the writing journey, my friends. 
Happy St. Patrick's Day! 


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Bonnie, these are very good suggestions for creating a professional query letter. I believe agents take on about 1 in 100 writers who query. So the better the initial contact the more likely to obtain the services of a first-rate agent.

Bonnie Tharp said...

Hi Jacqui - Yes, I didn't know the statistics, but I'm not surprised by them. Best step forward is always the philosophy to follow. Have a great weekend.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Don't know how I missed this one but another great post!
Thanks for the advice
Good luck and God's blessings

Bonnie Tharp said...

Thanks, Pamela. Have a great day!

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