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: www.raquelbyrnes.com 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!