Saturday, June 12, 2010

New Blog, Queries, and more

I know, I know, it's been more than a week since my last post.  Between getting my first 1/3 of my novel ready to send off, and therapy 3 times a week, I don't have much time for blogging.

As you can see, I've changed my blog somewhat.  Well, actually, a lot.  I'm trying out one of Blogger's new designer templates to see if I like it or not.  It's a little more complicated than the old template, so it and me may not get along too well.

I've been doing a lot of research the past couple of weeks on writing query letters.  About all it's done is to confuse me more than usual.  We all have to write them, though, so let's talk about queries for a moment.

When you decide to write one, do you spend hours and days getting it just right?  Or do you just sit down and spin it off the top of your head?  Queries are the first thing that either an editor or an agent sees about us, and it is upon that query that they base what kind of a writer we are.  Many times their rejections are simply because they feel the query is so badly written, the manuscript must also be a mess.  Sometimes that's true, but often it isn't.

I've heard so many writers say it isn't fair for our writing skills, abilities, and the quality of our craft to be judged on the basis of one short letter.  You know, I think that's true.  But we have to remember what a query is a marketing tool.  We are marketing ourselves to that editor or agent, and if we have not sold ourselves, they are definitely not going to buy our product.

The first thing we have to be sure of is the agency we send the query to.  For one thing, we need to have done enough research to know the name of the agent we're querying.  NO agent wants to open a letter addressed to "Dear Agent", "Dear Sir or Madam," or worse yet, "To Whom It May Concern."  Next, we have to make sure that this particular agent handles picture books, or middle grade novels, or mysteries, or fantasy, or whatever else we're writing.  If we get everything right in the letter, name of the agent, short and concise summary of the story, good bio and writing clips, and then send the query to Ms. X for our science fiction YA novel, and she doesn't handle any client who writes sci-fi OR YA, not only is our effort a waste of our time but we're probably going to get a bad name among agents.

I am sure I don't even have to mention this, but I will.  ALWAYS print the letter out on the best WHITE paper you can find, and don't mess around with colored paper or some kind of fancy paper like onion skin or something like that.  It should be the same kind of paper, with the same font, as you have written and printed out your manuscript on.  As for the font, 12 pt Times New Roman is the best, so don't get crazy with something wild and weird.

That's all for now, but more on query letters later.  It may be about a week, as my daughter/fellow writer and my son-in-law will be here tomorrow for 5 days. YIPPEE!

And that's a wrap.