I was reading the Oct 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest this morning to refresh my mind on what to write and what not to write in a query letter. Very informative. I instantly went about rewriting the basic query letter I’m using for my Night’s Treasure manuscript. I think it’s better than it used to be but it won’t be used for quite some time as I have to go through revisions to the manuscript itself before I can show it to another agent.
The article I’ll find most helpful later on when I’m querying agents again is the Meet 28 Agents Looking for New Writers by Chuck Sambuchino (whose helpful advice can also be found at the WD website). He names 28 agents and gives information about each of them, also listing tips from each agent. These I found just as helpful as the Agent’s Wish List article by Kimiko Nakamura which I used to refresh my mind on query letters etc. Here are some agent tips that I found particularly useful:
- MacKenzie Fraser-Bub (Trident Media Group) – appreciates short plot summaries that leave her wanting more; interesting bio says writer can make even mundane sound interesting
- Melissa Jeglinksi (The Knight Agency) – be yourself, not someone else
- Jody Klein (Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents) – RESEARCH!!!
- Laura Biagi (Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency) – persistence is key, keep pushing yourself even when you feel you’ll never finish
- Taylor Martindale (Full Circle Literary) – write what you love
- William Callahan (Waxman Leavell Literary Agency) – use Times New Roman
- Sara Megibow (Nelson Literary Agency) – have fun!
- Emma Patterson (Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents) – don’t send queries out till you’re certain your manuscript is ready (people get excited when they get close to the end and hurry themselves along before they’re really ready); proofread your query
- Carly Watters (P.S. Literary) – don’t put unrelated activities in query’s bio paragraph
- Kathleen Zakhar (Harold Ober Associates) – no info dumps in manuscript
Some of the advice given above seems fairly obvious but sometimes people need a reminder. And sometimes what seems obvious to one person is not obvious to another.
When I first began to seriously write, my husband told me to “write what I know.” He meant write about daily life kind of stuff and make it interesting to others. Real life stuff. But that isn’t usually very interesting to me so every time I sat down to write about it, I’d end up staring at a blank screen with the cursor blinking at me in a relentless fashion. Very boring. As boring as all the real life stuff of which I was familiar. I do believe he was right with advising to write about what I know, but I don’t think it needs to pertain only to real life situations. “Write what you love” is also important else you’ll be doing what I did – sitting at your desk, staring at an empty screen with a cursor blinking at you. Maddening.
So I combined the two bits of advice – Greek mythology. I know about Greek mythology and I love it. It seems obvious to me now and the solution might seem obvious to many others but, at the time, the answer might have been hidden in the vast expanse of the Sahara Desert for all I could make it out.
Hopefully others find these tips as helpful as I did. Happy writing trails!