Literary Agents

Queries Are Like Bad Dates

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My daughter said while getting ready for school this morning, “I think you need to get remarried.”

Me: (saying in passing as I butter my son’s toast) “That would require me to date.”

My daughter: “It must be really hard to find a someone to date.”

Me: “That, my dearest daughter, is an understatement.”

I have always been awkward around guys. Well, people in general, and I’m okay with it. I do my thing, I always try to be myself and to love who I am. Though, when I actually have a good conversation with a guy, I play in cool. But in my head, I’m jumping up and down, clapping, and saying: “Yippie!!!”

Dating my way

For me, choosing books to read, and writing queries are very simular to dating.

reading

Not only does the blurb about the book (whether your own or not) has to be enticing. The personality of the main character has to shine through like a big neon sign to get someone interested in the story or you (if your dating).

Neon sign sign

It can get awkward when you read a book jacket for the book that everyone is raving about, but it’s just…meh. Of course, you buy it, because who doesn’t like a shiny new book?

The jacket blurb gives your promises and sometimes it’s more reliable than the jacket. Like a blind date.

Blind_date_Display

Then there are those books that you know nothing about, but once you are the jacket, the desire stirs within you. Then there is that excited squeal that I found another book that makes me want to go home to my comfy chair and read to my hearts content.

excitment

Here are three books that pulled me in by the blurb on the jacket.

  1. Just One Wish, by Jennette Rallison

Just one wish  a

2. The DUFF, by Kody Keplinger

the duff

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

3. The Raven Boys (The Raven Cyle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

Raven boys

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

Then there are WRITING QUERIES!

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Querying is one of the hardest things to write. It’s like a bad first date where a person inevitably says too much. Instead of an enticing conversation, it can quickly become an awkward summery of useless facts and way too much oversharing. Don’t do that!!

Dating

Put your awkwardness away, because you have the fabulous novel that is aching to be published. But you need an agent.

gatekeeper

They are the gatekeepers to the New York publishing world. Yes, there are publishers who will do accept submissions without an agent, but you still need to write the query. And it better be good!

Here are what some agents say about queries (from the blog, Writers In The Storm):

“Spelling errors or grammatical mistakes. They just make me want to stop reading.” – Lisa Leshne, LJK Literary Management

“Unfocused queries and the term ‘fiction novel.'” -Melissa Flashman, Trident Media Group, LLC

“I’m sick of vagueness. I get so many queries every day that don’t tell me enough about the novel. If there’s no reason for me to say yes, then it’s going to be no.” -Bridget Smith, Dunham Literary, Inc.

Go to the blog to read more. It’s a very good post.

Agents are fantastic about telling you what works and what doesn’t. Kinda like a dating coach.

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A few consistent tips for query writing so you don’t be the awkward douche bag who everyone cringes at.

collins

  1. Be polite and professional
  2. No typos. Read your query three times over, then have five honest friends look it over
  3. Follow the submission guidelines
  4. Do your research! (because asking an agent to represent your book that they do not represent will only lead to awkward embarrassment for you)c
  5. No abstractions. Stick to the main conflict of the story. What are the stakes for the main character? Give enough reasons to care without oversharing.

Here are a few websites that I find to be helpful.

  1. Query Shark
  2. Agent Query
  3. Nathan Bransford’s blog
  4. Query Letter Success
  5. YA Highway

Like my sister told me when I was 16 (someone actually wrote a blog about Mr. Collin’s awkwardness), “Don’t be awkward like Mr. Collins,…”

awkward

“…but be awkward as Mr. Darcy.”

Follow the querying/literary social rules, and be a literary rockstar!

 

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