For my second official blog post as Linda’s intern I’ve decided to write about queries. I know, you’re thinking another query blog? Well, yes! Because no matter how many times the specifications of what is asked for when sending in a query are discussed, there are people who (ready for it?) STILL don’t do it correctly. *Gasp*
What I’m going to be talking about today are the parts of the query where you pitch. That’s right folks, believe it or not they matter. Not just the pitches about your manuscript, but the pitches about yourselves too. Since I’ve been reading so many queries and seeing just how people try to sell themselves and their manuscripts I wanted to point out a few things.
- Don’t sell yourself more than your manuscript. It happens. Sometimes there is a bit about the manuscript, promptly followed (or sometimes preceded) by the 15 literary awards that the author has won, the numerous associations they are part of and countless other facts, both related and not. Please include information about yourself, but do it with some humility in mind. That is not to say giving information about your successes isn’t important. Awards are great, just let them be relevant to your writing or your manuscript. If you are sending in a YA novel, I don’t need to know you have won awards for making pottery.
- Do not compare your manuscript to 3 other books that have no common thread. It does not make more sense or give an idea of what your book is actually about. Do not say it’s a cross between Harry Potter and To Kill a Mockingbird with a twist of Gone with the Wind. That does not give a clear depiction of what your book is about or make much sense. Instead, give a picture of the story you created, using your own words and thoughts. It’s ok to include comps when they truly describe an aspect of your manuscript you can’t describe any other way. But describing your manuscript with your own words can give a much better idea of what it is and how you see it.
- Make sure you give a concise summary of your manuscript. We want to be able to get a sense of what you are talking about. Being bombarded with too many thoughts about your manuscript can muddle the clear depiction you want to give. You want to make sure you will grab the interest of whoever is reading your query so they will want to give your manuscript a chance. Keeping it down to a couple of paragraphs is more than enough to tell about your manuscript.
So that’s what I have for you this month! Thank you for taking the time to read my pointers and I hope this was helpful in your pursuit of finding an agent. I wish you continued luck on your journey and I’ll talk to you soon! Let me know in the comments section below if you have specific things you’d like me to blog about in the future.
Kimberly Richardson is currently interning for Linda Epstein at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency, while pursuing her Masters degree in Pace University’s Publishing Program. You can follow Kimberly on Twitter @kimberly_ann688.
DRUM ROLL PLEASE!
I’d like to introduce my new intern, Kimberly Richardson. Kimberly’s going to tell you a little bit about herself, but let me just say here and now, she’s terrific! We just started working together and I’m already appreciating her good work and lovely company.
Hi all! I’m Kimberly and currently a graduate student in the MS Publishing program at Pace University. I got my BA in English from Queens College and live on Long Island. Having been born and raised in upstate New York, I was inexplicably drawn to the City and at 18 made the move down. Since moving here I have experienced the beauty of the beaches and the enthralling, gritty factor of the City.
I worked at a funeral home while getting my BA and really enjoyed being able to help people. While there, I decided I needed to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Having an English degree and failing to grab a job as an editorial assistant (or any publishing industry assistant for that matter) I knew I had to take a plunge; one that would help me in making connections and be a more appealing employee in the career I was seeking. So I applied to Pace and now I’m pursuing a dream I didn’t even know I had. I love the program and am even more excited about the people I am meeting and the opportunities that are unfolding. I didn’t realize this program would open so many doors and give me confidence in deciding where I want my degree to take me.
Deciding on this path shouldn’t have been as hard as I made it for the simple fact that I have always loved books. I began really reading with the American Girl series in third grade and I remember being captivated by how the story unfolded on the pages. Before that I hadn’t really grasped the power words could have on a person or their imagination. Throughout middle school and high school I read anything I could get my hands on and read a lot of fantasy, sci-fi and crime thriller (think Michael Crichton, Thomas Harris, J.K. Rowling). The books during those years, especially Harry Potter, defined the kind of reader I was becoming. Books helped shape the way I thought and felt and my imagination. Today, I still find nothing more satisfying than finishing a book I’ve been able to connect with and continuing to read books that influence who I am.
As any good student, I love reading, writing, and learning. I always say that if I could go to school for the rest of my life without becoming broke I would. For me, education and reading go hand in hand. I am looking forward to this internship with Linda, this next semester of school, and all the wonderful people I’m going to meet while continuing on this path!
You can follow Kimberly on Twitter @kimberly_ann688 and expect to see her blog posts here on the monthly “Dish from the Literary Agent Intern.” If there are specific topics you’d like her to cover on the blog, do let us know in the comments below.
First, I’d like to thank everyone who entered the logline contest last week! After careful consideration, the winner of this contest—and winner of a copy of Veronica Roth’s Divergent—is Rae! Here’s her captivating logline:
“How to lose a guy—and destroy his kingdom—in five days: commit treason, incite an uproar, and reject the king’s marriage proposal at the tip of a sword. Madness, opulence, and intrigue collide when a bipolar heroine returns home to seek revenge in a medieval version of GONE GIRL.”
I chose Rae’s logline because of its effectiveness—doesn’t it just make you want to read the whole novel right this second? As I discussed in my first post, a logline should hook the reader and make them want to read more, and her logline does exactly that. She uses vivid language and focuses on the most exciting parts of the story. And comparing this story to an action-packed, bestselling novel certainly doesn’t hurt. Her logline also follows the important criteria of being only a sentence or two long, and summarizing the main plot points while not giving away the ending.
While we had some great submissions, not all of them were true loglines. Remember, you want your loglines to be enticing and concise. No giving away the ending or attending to unessential details. I can certainly sympathize with those of you who had a hard time narrowing your stories down to only the most important aspects, but sometimes you just have to hack away at all those extra details in order to get to the root of your story. Keep working at it, and you’ll eventually come up with your very own beautifully crafted logline.
Thanks again for your participation, and congratulations to Rae!
Tara Slagle is Linda Epstein‘s current intern. Tara is working toward her M.S. in Publishing at Pace University. After completing her degree she plans to work in the publishing world as either an acquisitions editor or literary agent, focusing on YA and (the emerging) New Adult titles.