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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Query and agent questions

   
Author Topic: Query and agent questions
Foste
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Seeing how I am 10k away from finishing my manuscript I thought I'd ask ya'll a couple of question.

I know that this particular dead horse has been beaten time and again in this section of the forum, but I figured that I'd just gently prod it.

My questions:

1. Kristine Nelson states on PubRants that five or six sentences would suffice for a query. Some sites however, mention summaries. Can anyone with querying experience tell me what the norm is? Sending just a five sentence pitch or the whole summary?

2. Is sending simultaneous queries okay? Like to multiple agents at once?

3. My novel is set in Tokyo. When supplying my author's bio, would it be a good idea to point out that I am a translation major and fluent in Japanese? Does the authors bio come at the end or the beginning of the letter?

4. Also, is listing writing credentials consisting of modest venues such as Golden Visions a good idea (especially when the story features a teen protagonist in Tokyo)?

5. Can I use my age (22) as a selling point for a YA novel? You know, being closer to the teen audience? Sounds like a stupid question, I know.

6. My novel is set in modern day Tokyo, but it doesn't utilize any Urban Fantasy tropes. Is it okay to call my novel a contemporary YA fantasy?

Help would be greatly appreciated!

P.S.
I also posted my query in the appropriate section of the forum. Take a look if you feel like it.

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by Foste:
Seeing how I am 10k away from finishing my manuscript I thought I'd ask ya'll a couple of question.

Speaking from experience. Wait a month, edit, get some readers, and revise again before actually starting to query.

quote:
My questions:

1. Kristine Nelson states on PubRants that five or six sentences would suffice for a query. Some sites however, mention summaries. Can anyone with querying experience tell me what the norm is? Sending just a five sentence pitch or the whole summary?

250 words is about the sweet spot, 400 words max. That's for the whole query. I think if you look at some of the successful queries that Kristin Nelson has posted, you'll find that some of them are more than 5 or 6 sentences. Make sure that the whole query fits on one page--without formatting tricks.

quote:
2. Is sending simultaneous queries okay? Like to multiple agents at once?
It's not only okay, it's the norm. Most agents expect it.

quote:
3. My novel is set in Tokyo. When supplying my author's bio, would it be a good idea to point out that I am a translation major and fluent in Japanese? Does the authors bio come at the end or the beginning of the letter?
In the bio, generally include only things that make you especially suited to write this story. Being fluent in Japanese would count.

quote:
4. Also, is listing writing credentials consisting of modest venues such as Golden Visions a good idea (especially when the story features a teen protagonist in Tokyo)?
This is not a problem I've had--yet. I'd probably include only one or two of the best publication credits.

quote:
5. Can I use my age (22) as a selling point for a YA novel? You know, being closer to the teen audience? Sounds like a stupid question, I know.
In general, agents don't really care about your age at this point. I'd leave it out.

quote:
6. My novel is set in modern day Tokyo, but it doesn't utilize any Urban Fantasy tropes. Is it okay to call my novel a contemporary YA fantasy?
I don't see why not if that's the description that feels most correct to you.

quote:
Help would be greatly appreciated!

P.S.
I also posted my query in the appropriate section of the forum. Take a look if you feel like it.


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Foste
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Much obliged Meredith! I knew I count on you to get to my questions first. [Wink]
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extrinsic
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I ditto what Meredith wrote. A query is a letter of introduction, introducing a product as if the product is a stranger to a disinterested party who needs and wants to have a fire lit under her or his chair.

A well-organized query starts with a pitch paragraph block that expresses a novel's main dramatic complication: what the central character most wants and what most impedes getting it; maybe the stakes for failure and success, maybe the setting's time, place, and situation; in twenty-five words or less.

A second paragraph block summarizes the main dramatic action but doesn't give away the ending. If the pitch is artfully composed, the summary expands on and enhances the pitch. It's the middle of a query structure; like a plot, the summary should increase curiosity and interest; in other words, tension's suspense and empathy. Interest in, caring for, and rooting for the central character to achieve what she wants most. More than one paragraph is okay, up to one hundred words broken up into short, pithy, meaningful paragraphs. Less is more; more is less.

A third paragraph block or section artfully details auidence target, like contemporary young adult fantasy. The gender and rough age of the central character should already be given in the pitch; adding details that aren't yet given that suggest the audience is a best practice for this section. For example, Emo girl Chandra likes boys who are ironically cool, selflesly cool trying to appear as though they don't want to be cool, but hates boys who show off.

I suggest avoiding abbreviations like YA. They make a composition look like shorthand that's trying to cram in meaning when space is limited. A best practice principle for all writing is to make pages or a page visually appealing and inviting. Ample white space serves. Text walls, multiple caps, and hyphenated words clutter up a page and make it look fussy or busy, alienating potential readers. Look at the query page printed and see if it's appealing and inviting.

The fourth paragraph or last section details personal information, again, artfully. You write and speak Japanese. How can that be used to advantage in a query? In what intriguing way did you come to learn Japanese that would matter to a stranger and not come across as bragging? Same sort of thought process for publishing credits: why would they matter to a stranger and be expressed meaningfully without appearing pointless? I love personal anecdotes about writing. Example, A parody story I wrote out of frustration and desperation in pencil on the bus ride to middle school, read to the entire eighth grade class, was laughed at and loved. The attention both embarrassed and thrilled me.

[ May 10, 2012, 09:29 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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MAP
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Meredith is pretty much the go to girl for getting query advice. [Smile] Everything she says is spot on from what I've gathered from stalking agents on the internet.

But please make sure you do some good editing before you query. I've heard a lot of agents talking about authors shooting themselves in the foot by querying too soon. You really need a solid, well-written story to get an agent. The competition is fierce.

Good luck to you.

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