Sunday, April 18, 2010

Query Letter Questions



So I'm working on my query letter. (I know, I'm not finished my novel yet, but I always work on the letter as I write the novel. I figure, if you spend 6 months writing a novel, you shouldn't spend one day writing the letter that goes with it.)

I have the first two paragraphs down. What I'm questioning is how much of my accomplishments to tell the agent.

*Will they cringe if they know that I already have a published book in print with an indie company?

*Or scoff at the fact that I write for three different ebook publishers?

*Should I leave out all the little publication credits from non pro markets?

Help me out, here! What would you put down in your query letter?

24 comments:

Michelle H. said...

Okay, I'm not sure how much help I can give, but I've heard certain things floating around the internet so I'll try to do what I can.

Seriously, my best advice is to research each particular agent you plan to query. Everyone is different for what they want to see in a query and how it's formatted. Some will say to leave off indie and e-publishers while others will want to know how established you are and what types of sells you made with those.

Sorry, I know that's not a definite answer to any of your questions. But it's the only one I have. Once, I queried an agent who didn't want any small time newspaper articles mentioned because she didn't consider it "real writing". Then the next day I came across an agent who said in his submission information page that he wanted to know stuff like that.

Alesa Warcan said...

Sorry I can't help being the complete amateur that I am.
Perhaps you could put this question (if you haven't already) to the people who do know, other authors or better yet people who work in that field. Some of them are bloggers here, in fact I think you follow some of their blogs.
Hope it works out for you.

Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist said...

I have no idea. But maybe try one of those blogs that critiques query letters?

Deniz Bevan said...

What on earth? I sort of thought it was a good thing to have lots of publishing credits! Isn't it? The best advice always comes from Nathan Bransford, Superagent :-) Even so, I keep tweaking my own query every month...

Lola Sharp said...

I agree with Michelle; research each agent you plan to query and tailor your letter accordingly.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend!
Lola

Nicole Zoltack said...

I list my novels (with the publisher and date of publication) and mention the anthologies I'm in. I think that any paid publications are worth mentioning. The only time I wouldn't, is if the publication is for a completely different genre than the work I'm querying. But if you do mention a book, be sure to list the publisher and publication date. I read that if you don't, they assume it's PA. And you don't want them thinking it's with a vanity press.

~Nicole

Susan Fields said...

I'm sorry I can't be much help, but it seems to me that as an agent or editor, I'd want to know that you're professional and have worked in the industry, so if in doubt, I'd probably add them in. Good luck!

Jackee said...

Every agent is different, but I think if you write your credits in broad terms you're okay. For example, I have a few nonfiction publishing credits, so I just say I have been published five times in scientific, peer-reviewed journals.

I don't think it can hurt to put it in there unless it takes up more space than the paragraphs about the book (because that's really what they want to see). And it shows that you're trying, that you're putting yourself out there. Showing your commitment can only help, not hinder.

Anyway, my two cents...

Good luck, Aubrie!

Lindsey Duncan said...

I can't speak to how agents will regard ebook credits, but ...

As far as publication credits, the usual rule I see is to list the four or five most impressive credits you have, whatever those might be, with an "among others" indication of some kind. No unpaid publications, though.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Yeah, sorry. I'm with the majority. I don't know enough about the topic to offer advice. :(

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Sorry, I only know the answer if you're self published.

Great idea to start the query now . . . before you've finished your novel.

India Drummond said...

My feeling is that writing credits are to show that #1 you can write *publishable* material and #2 that you are a writing pro.

It doesn't matter who published you, as long as it was a professional publication and not a vanity press. So, I'd summarise and list the novels for sure, and other stuff that's recent. You can always say that they can read a full list of publication credits on your website.

You really just need them to see that you're a pro. If they're interested, they'll google you anyway.

My 2 pence.

Saumya said...

Hmm, I would think that a book already in print would only add to your credentials. Same goes for three different epublishers. I would leave out the non pro market part.

This is random, but sometimes if you call an agency and speak to anyone (the assistant even), they can give you quick but helpful pointers on what's right and what's not. I learned about the structure of my query letter from a phone call! Good luck!!

Southpaw said...

I won’t be of any help either. I’ll just pass on the stuff I’ve read.

Don’t write about non-paid stories or self-published stuff or about work that is different from what you want to publish. For example if you trying to publish a novel, flash fiction credits are not useful to an agent.

I would think that if you can show that your published e-books have a following that would bode well showing you have an audience waiting already.

arlee bird said...

A lot a good advice has already been given and I've seen so many blogs that have given more good advice. There are even blogs that seem to specialize in nothing but writing and sending queries. Google it! Good luck with your mission and keep us posted as to what is happening.
Lee
May 3rd A to Z Challenge Reflections Mega Post

Carol Kilgore said...

I wouldn't mention them unless they've amassed a huge number of sales - in the five digit variety. Then you should. Agents and publishers look hard at the bottom line. Nobody said this was fun :(

Julie Dao said...

Hmm I think being pre-published would be a plus, wouldn't it? If I were an agent I would think to myself that here is an author who has the chops to get her work out into the world. I agree with everyone else who said to research each agent - that's the advice I've heard most frequently - and to tailor your query to each one's preferences. They all have different likes and dislikes that you can mold your master query letter to fit.

Talli Roland said...

I think if you have books published it's a definite asset, no matter who they're with. But I agree your query should be tailored to whoever you're querying. You don't want to overload them with all your publishng credits so maybe pick the ones that are most relevant. What a great position to be in! :) Good luck!

elizabeth mueller said...

EEk! How about the wonderful praise of a writing instructor from a university???? Could that be mentioned!

I think it's an excellent idea to start your query letter now. I have only ONE query letter for ONE of the 8 books I've written and my heart sinks with the thought of writing 7 more qu
ery letters for each book.

*Sigh...

Lisa Rusczyk said...

I think you've gotten some great advice. I'd like to add that any agent who doesn't see your credits that you've worked hard for - whether paid or unpaid - may not be the agent you want. Maybe I'm wrong. I have read your work and you have a unique style. As a writer with a similar background and hopes as you, I want an agent some day who gets what I write about and why I write it. Otherwise, what's the point? I'd list it all.

Jayne said...

Hello! I'd say tailor your query to the agent, start with your story synopsis. Middle - title of book, wordcount, genre, why you chose them, and end short snappy bio with relevant publishing credits. Working on the letter early is a godsend later, so you are really doing the right thing, I reckon! Hope that helps.

Ps - found you via Winded Words. :)

Theresa Milstein said...

Definitely mention the indie company. They'll probably check out your website and blog anyway. I think that it's smart that you're having the foresight to work on it now.

Jen said...

How ambitious of you to write your query letter while writing your novel! I love it!!! I have thought about it and I might start mine once the first set of revisions are finished :) Good Luck with yours!

SAMUEL PARK said...

I would mention the indie publication, but I would not mention writing for the ebook publishers. I'd try not to clutter it with too many credits and information and focus on the manuscript at hand. Matthew Rush had a great sample query recently that was all about the story and led to a great sale in YA. Good luck with the query and the submissions! Exciting times!