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.