A few weeks ago, I attended an online “webinar” hosted by NYBook Editors (I used their services some years ago when preparing my manuscript for publication). It was a program offering guidance in writing queries, and pitching one’s book. It was fairly informative, although at first, it was frustratingly full of “hooks.” The speaker went on and on for the first hour talking about what her tips would do for our careers, and she told us of some success stories, and so on– The usual thing. But at last, she did have a few general tips for writing queries that I found immensely useful.
For example, she suggested, as an exercise, to make a list of all of the ways in which our books were unique. To list the genre or genre’s they straddled, and any issues they addressed. If I recall, she called it a “bus list.” She also told us, that in addition to listing everything our books were, she said to be equally cognizant of what our books weren’t. Furthermore, she suggested we think of our books not as literary works, but as marketable products. –I’ll admit, I kind of resented that at first, but as I tried to keep it in mind, I found that such an attitude did in fact help with the creation of my query letters.
Other bits of advice involved researching specific agents at agencies to whom to submit, and to personalize each query. To make it seem as if we were writing directly to that person, and for their interests. While I did attempt to do this before, I only did so insofar as it told me who would be interested in Fantasy, or Myth Based fantasy, or pseudo-historical work, and so on. This time, I did my best to address my prospective agents directly, while dwelling on the unique aspects of Medousa. I shied away from trying to write the “movie trailer” type teasers for attention-grabbing, and simply described what the novel was about, and the themes it addressed.
I have thus far submitted a slightly revised MEDOUSA to three publishers/agents: The Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency, JABberwocky Literary Agency, and the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency. I found these agencies online while searching for agencies that were willing to take on previously self-published books. And I hope that this time, my query letters have improved to the point of piquing some interest. Now, it is time to play the waiting game.
Eventually, as the seminar wound down, the expected pitches were made to join a class for writing query letters. I was amused that a few of the younger attendees indignantly dropped out of the conference screen, complaining about the ol’ bait-and-switch. I probably would have done the same in my younger days. But that day, I was rather more sanguine about it all. After all, I did get some useful information, and the webinar was free. So what if the guest and host wanted to make a pitch? They need to earn money somehow. And I’d gotten, if not everything I wanted, at least enough information to greatly improve my query technique.
Naturally, I’ll keep you all posted. I hope one day soon to have to remove my self published version from availability at Amazon, B&N, Alibris, CreateSpace, et al.
And in the coming week or so, I will post a few excerpts of updated scenes from Medousa.