Tuesday, May 24, 2005

So You Want to Be a Publishing Star

Standing Out Among the Queries

It’s everyone’s goal in sending a query. To stand out from the pack, especially if you’ve been reading these threads about rejection, then you know that it’s even more important that you double or triple your odds.

I thought of something significant tonight and thought I’d relay it as a “quick tip” regarding queries. Today I had a wonderful note from a friend of a client, someone whose work I’d actually noticed recently via a circuitous route that led me to her website. It occurred to me that she might easily have thought the proper protocol was to ignore her “personal” connection through this client. Sometimes, I think we all feel we need to make things almost harder for ourselves out of fear of taking a shortcut. Too often, though, prospective clients may have a card they can play and then refuse to play it out of this sense of propriety.

What if the author today had just blind-queried me, and then what if somehow in the wash of queries hers hadn’t happened to stand out to me? It would have been a mistake! In fact, the client who referred her came to me via a friend. And what if she’d not mentioned that friend in the initial contact? Again, she might not have jumped out at me like she did.

The point here? Is that if an agent has critiqued your work in a contest, been on a chat loop you belong to, visited a conference where you spoke to him/her, lived in your hometown, attended the same college you graduated from, shares the same interest in a television show, has the same last name, is blog buddies with your best friend… mention it. At the beginning of the letter. Don’t decide to add it in the final sentence where it might be lost. Lead out with it! Say something like, “My critique partner, Bobby Fleckman has spoken very highly of you and the work your agency has done on her behalf… she thought we might be a strong match.”

Or: “My name is Bonnie Ferguson and we’ve recently exchanged posts on one another’s blogs. Our shared interest in Julia Quinn (or LOST or STAR WARS or whatever) led me to believe you might have interest in my Regency romance set on a desert island. (Surely you get the idea.)

Another Important Fact To Remember
If you’re a published author of fiction, be sure to lead out with that as well. Don’t snuggle that fact under a cozy blanket of plot and pitching where we might not see it. TELL US. I’ve actually had multi-published authors (with major houses!) barely mention the fact until the final line. Similarly don’t try and oversell the facts by claiming you’re “multi-published” when it’s self-publishing.

SPAM FILTER HELL
Lately there's been quite a lot of communication on this blog about spam filters. Read Jessica's horror story about my THREE requests for her chapters that have not been received on her end and you'll get a good idea of what can happen if you're not careful with email blocking systems while going through the submission process. Better to endure some email than miss an important reply from an agent or editor.
Just a few more tips from your friendly purveyors of Internet publishing factoids.

6 Comments:

Blogger Edie said...

Good advice! And I always check my spam filter.:)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005 at 11:00:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Bonnie Ferguson said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 12:11:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Bonnie Ferguson said...

That's great advice :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 5:56:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Ellen Fisher said...

As always, thanks for the useful info, Deidre.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 6:47:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Kathy Holmes said...

I love the advice about mentioning a connection with the agent. With each batch of query letters, I'm definitely improving, thanks to advice like this.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 9:48:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Natalie said...

You like LOST?

Oh, I'm so in! LOL

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 2:14:00 PM EDT  

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