Monday, April 27, 2009

Query letters

I've been gone for awhile--too much school and other stuff. It's eating my head, lol. And thinking--lots of thinking. That's the trouble with a job where the hands work, but the mind is totally separate. Might as well be a robot. I don't need to be there, just my muscle memory.

I've been thinking about query letters because I used to stress my letter--comma placement, and word usage--whether it was engaging and if anyone would even care. Now that I've had the privilege and pleasure of reading lots and lots of "other" people's query letters, I've come to the conclusion--yeah, it does matter. At least a little.

I don't read synopsizes. (horrible confession, I know, but--damn, they're boring. Boring to write, boring to read. Only good if you have some kind of question about the partial.) But I enjoy a good query.

People told me I was odd during the last RD query letter contest. I insisted on telling whoever I was approaching "why" I picked them. To me, it was just common courtesy, "hey--I picked you because I found out this about you. Thought we'd be a good fit." And any other personal stuff that might slant my book into their world view. "You like exotic places? Wow. That's amazing, I have a book set in an exotic place." LOL.

I never got it right until Anna Genoese did her LJ post. It must have worked because I got requests up the wazoo. Good letter. Maybe not the right fit. But she suggested the personalized approach too.

...for better or worse. Jodi's random analysis of fifty query letters

In fifty letters:

39 used a generic greeting. Dear **** editor

11 discovered an actual name and used it
42 started with an RWA crit-group style question. ie. What would happen if...

2 told me we looked okay because they read our definition of romance, agreed with it, and their story was a romance. Blah blah. In exactly those words. You don't think authors use "blah, blah"? Yeah, right.

5 read the line requirements, explained A) how they fit into them or B) why they picked us specifically

1 came up with the actual title of something in the line and complimented us on the story before she launched into her pitch
46 told me how much the author liked romance. Seriously

24 used the next paragraph to talk about themselves

18 used the next four paragraphs to talk about themselves

6 talked about themselves so much, they didn't tell me about the story

34 used single spacing and came real close to using the whole page

10 used single spacing and went to two pages because they wanted to put the synopsis in the body of the query

2 didn't talk about themselves or their book, but used a lot of touchie-feelie words like "wide range of emotions", "you'll laugh, you'll cry" and "love is the greatest bond/test/gift"

5 had a succinct, engaging short query-style overview hook that made me want to read more.
18 involved college students

12 took place on campus

29 had a cute/adorable/precious child somewhere between the ages of 3 and nine

21 mentioned a dog

5 heroines were romance writers

12 heroines owned a bed and breakfast

17 mentioned a quirky extended family

32 heroes owned their own business or were tycoons

9 heroines were elementary school teachers who fall for parent fathers

16 heroines are rescued (by the hero) when their car breaks down on a lonely road in the dark, out in the middle of nowhere
42 do not tell me what stops the hero and heroine from being together

8 don't bother to tell me the hero's name

26 wax poetic about the heroine's body (nobody mentions the hero's body, and I wonder why)

9 tell me they're waiting for me to tell them where to send the full

Maybe it's just me. Am I picky? The letter where the author pointed out a book from the line and complimented us, also had a hook, took up slightly more than half a page and didn't make personal statements that weren't pertinent. Good writing.


Jeanna said...

21 mentioned a dog, lol

Alice Audrey said...

Yeah, actually, you are picky, but I don't think that's a bad thing.

Now about the heroes who are entrepreneurs....

jodi said...

Jeanna--every child has a dog, or some kind of pet. It goes with the whole, "I'm a cute kid thing". They're not dogs like you have--but little dogs (that are cute to go with cute kids, maybe it'd be better if they had an enormous dog? That way the dog would be the guardian protector, and the writer could put in things like doggy piles and water bowls that have to sit on shelves and drool, lol) :)

Everyone's an entrepreneur, Alice. It's weird. Very weird.

Kaige said...

"42 do not tell me what stops the hero and heroine from being together"

I keep banging my head against this question. Guess I better figure out the answers, quick!

Different line than I'd submit to, but interesting to see the numbers!

*takes notes on what NOT to do*

Unhinged said...

2 didn't talk about themselves or their book, but used a lot of touchie-feelie words like "wide range of emotions", "you'll laugh, you'll cry" and "love is the greatest bond/test/gift"I got the biggest belly laugh at this one. Why on earth did these 2 even WRITE a query? Hah, hah, hah!

Unhinged said...

Man, what IS it with the html lately? It happens everywhere in Blogger now and it's starting to make me look even more stoopid than when I don't roofpread.

jodi said...

lol, Kaige. It's definitely a different line. I don't pretend to know anything about regencies anymore. After you move away from it, all the historical details get kind of fuzzy. :)

Andi, I wondered that myself. They only mentioned the title of their story. I had to send a follow up letter for an explanation.

html isn't the worlds best anything. I always look goofy too. :(

Alice Audrey said...

I don't think it's weird at all. Entrepreneurs are USA's version of alphas.

Eva Gale said...

*raises hand* I wrote an entrepreneur. What Alice said. Plus, it's a femminist thing of go own your own world.