Thursday, June 16, 2011

REAL Query Help from Raquel Byrnes!

So yibus know how I love yibus, ne? (that is tart speak for you all know how I love all of you, for the uninitiated)... and how I don't really KNOW all that much, but I want to help yibus out ANYWAY... and you're in LUCK, because I have some REALLY smart friends.

Raquel is a long-time blog buddy and has the REMARKABLE skill of being able to put things in terms that even my thick head can absorb. I am inclined to KNOW when I see good advice, but not really GET what they mean... show don't tell... yeah, whatever... But Raquel, through her TERRIFIC posts has taught me such things as how to write a synopsis, how to ensure a strong premise, and what a media kit needs.

So when I learned she was doing her blog book tour for the release of her Romantic Suspense novel, Purple Knot, I thought, WE want some of that!!! (Holy COW is she organized!?) She had suggested blog topics and said we could pick or make a special request...

I went with a topic I thought we ALL need at some point, and I am VASTLY insufficient to help anybody on... (might as well ask the expert where I have no expertise, eh?) And she's come through fabulously, so Welcome Raquel!

Five Query No-No’s to Avoid
We all talk about agents as the gatekeepers to publication. Well, your query letter is your key to that kingdom. With so much riding on first impressions, here are five query no-no’s to avoid.
  • You query someone who doesn’t represent your genre. Make sure to research the agent you send your query to. Websites like Query Tracker and books like Writer’s Market all list the genre agents represent. Do your homework so you don’t waste your time.
  • You don’t talk about your book. I know it sounds crazy, but a lot of people do this. Queries are pitch letters for your book. So make the bulk of your one-page allotment about the manuscript. Don’t go off on what inspired you or how you researched it. Sell the idea of the book.
  • You have grammar mistakes. This one is a biggie because it represents you as a writer. Do you have a grasp on the craft? Can you get to the point? Have you heard of a comma? Queries reveal a lot about you as a writer. Make sure you shine.
  • You come off as arrogant, clueless, or both. Yes, you want to show confidence. Of course you are proud of your book. But telling the agent that your manuscript is the next Twilight or whatever your genre’s superstar is makes you look terrible. And don’t announce that it’s recently finished – otherwise known as unedited.
  • You don’t wait long enough. One thing you don’t want to do is annoy the agent. Don’t call five times to see if they got it. Don’t call them at all, actually. An email after a month is acceptable for follow up.
What are some things you should do?
  • Write it in the voice of your book. Is your novel fast-paced? Then convey energy in your pitch. Show them that you pack a punch in your writing.
  • Hit all three biggies: Who is it about? What is the conflict? What happens if they don’t stop it?
  • Give the vitals: What is the word count? What is the genre? Give them specifics that will help them visualize who they’d pitch your book to.
  • Mention you’ve gone social: Don’t refer them to your website to read more…they don’t do that. But do mention you feel comfortable using social media to promote your book. List a blog address or a Twitter account, but remember—those are NOT for the agent to go searching for information they need.
  • Send the right format: Some agents have gone paperless and only accept email queries. Some only want the query as the body of the email and not as an attachment. Don’t knock yourself out of the running before you even start by not sending what they want.
With a little research and attention to detail, your query can catch the attention you deserve. Take the time to do it right and you’ll give yourself a fighting chance to snag that dream agent.

Raquel Byrnes lives in Southern, California with her husband of sixteen years and their six children. She considers inspirational fiction a wonderful way to minister to others. She writes romantic suspense with an edge-your-seat pace. Her first book the Shades of Hope Series, Purple Knot, releases on June 3rd from White Rose Publishing. You can visit her at her website: and her writing blog, Edge of Your Seat Romance.

[Doesn't she have a great face? I love her cheek bones, eyes, and the mischief playing under the elegance.]

And a little tart trivia... because I CAN... when I took Spanish in High School (and 8th grade) my Spanish teacher gave me the name Raquel (Raquel Corazón--Heart). She said it was because Raquels are smart. I thought it might also be because they are spicy.  Thanks so much Raquel!


Christine Murray said...

This is great advice. Thanks Raquel!

Unknown said...

Good advice as usual. Pays to have friends :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Not talking about the books seems, well, stupid!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Great advice, Raquel! :)

Old Kitty said...

Wonderful sensible and very practical advice - so utterly NAKED!! Thank you lovely Tart and Raquel!! Take care

erica and christy said...

Great post. I added it to favorites so I can come back and check out the great links! Christy

Mason Canyon said...

Raquel, great advice. Sometimes it's the simple things that we forget to do.

Hart, another wonderful interview.

Thoughts in Progress
Freelance Editing By Mason

Hart Johnson said...

Thanks so much, everyone for stopping in! It IS helpful stuff, eh?

Gina Blechman said...

Great advice. I just finished going through all this, and it's hard stuff, but once you get it done. FEELS SO GOOD. Good luck to everyone!

<3 Gina Blechman

Raquel Byrnes said...

LOL! My husband agrees with the mischievious. ;) Thank you so much, Hart for the lovely post...its wonderful!

Good luck to everyone on your querying!

Mary Mary said...

Great tips, and a lovely picture indeed!

Mel Chesley said...

ALWAYS good to have this kind of info. I certainly could have used it years ago, but now I know. ;)
Hart, I have an award for you on my blog. XD

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Hi Tart. Thanks for posting the query tips for me. I needs all the helps I can get.

Raquel Byrnes said...

Thank you, Mary!

Caledonia Lass - Yes, I'm glad to pass it on. Congratulations, Hart, on the award!

Michael - Funny...good luck!

anthony stemke said...

Some great query tips here.
Thank You.

Dianne Greenlay said...

Thank you Tart and Raquel for this list. "Recently finished" otherwise known as unedited - I never thought of that phrase in that way. What a great tip!

Julie Musil said...

More awesome advice by Raquel! Thanks, ladies :D

Raquel Byrnes said...

No problem,Anthony!

Dianne - Isn't Hart awesome. And yes...its all in the wording isn't it?

Julie - Awww...thanks!

Dianne Greenlay said...

Hart, I have had a very enjoyable evening, reading many of your previous posting from your "Tartish topics" and I love the humour in them as well as the great comon sense that you manage to portray. So entertaining and yet so informative, like today's list from Raquel. Keep up the great work.

I Must Be Off said...

Great information, Tart! Hope you're doing well. :)

Arlee Bird said...

These are great tips. This kind of information is always welcome to receive.
Six kids! Yikes! Raquel, how do you find time to write?!!

Tossing It Out

Misha Gerrick said...

Great tips, Raquel!

I definitely have to keep them in mind for when I query.


Erin Kane Spock said...

Where was this article 3 years ago?
Great advice and informative blog tour.