Friday, April 29, 2005

Gena Showalter: Query Letter 101

There has been some great discussion on the PITCH ME IF YOU CAN posting thread about queries, and as a result, I thought it would be helpful (and fun) to ask Gena Showalter to write about her experiences both with querying in general--and querying our agency in particular. Here's what she has to say:

Query Letter 101

In a query, you don’t need to have plot points and explain why you did such and such in your story. The ONLY purpose of a query is to get a request for more material.

Questions to think about before you begin: What hooks you when you read the back of a book? What type of tone do you want to convey? Can your book be crossed? Ex: Desperate Housewives meets Bram Stroker. The reason that question is (sometimes) important is because 1) you can give a very vivid image of your book in that one sentence. And 2) you can cash in on the popularity of a show. I’m not saying this method is for everyone. All I’m saying is that it’s something to think about.

What hooks you – the sexual tension? The plight of the characters? Find what hooks *you*, then weave that into your own blurb. Here’s what I wrote for my query to Deidre for my book,

The Pleasure Slave:

Having spurned the love of a sorceress, alien warrior Tristan ar Malik has been cursed to live inside a trinket box. He is a slave to women’s desires, allowed to emerge only when his female master has need of his services. His one hope for freedom is to find true love. Though the handsome rogue has welcomed many women in his bed, he has never given his heart
. (an intro of my hero)

Determined, intelligent and shy Julia Anderson of modern day Dallas would rather go through a crate of dusty antiques than go on a date. When she buys an odd-looking jewelry box, she never expects a tall, dark and sinfully delicious love slave to appear, claiming he will grant her body untold sensual delights. She decides to use his services, just not the way he intends, and asks him to tutor her in the art of dating. (an introduction of my heroine)

What tone – the words you use impact the tone you set. Think about it. What images do words like “slashed” and “darkly” convey? If you use them for your romantic comedy, you could be misleading the reader of your query.

I'll be back very soon to elaborate on the *impact* of Gena's query letter--and to talk some more about the kinds of letters that tend to snag my attention.



Blogger Bonnie Ferguson said...

Wow this is very helpful.

Friday, April 29, 2005 at 3:01:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Night Diva Maria said...

I'm such a reader... when's the book coming out?
Query letters- great subject. I'm interested in reading more.

Monday, May 2, 2005 at 4:41:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Bonnie Ferguson said...

If you're asking about the Pleasure's already out and it's a great read :)

Monday, May 2, 2005 at 7:55:00 AM EDT  

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