I'm linked to JASON PINTER'S Blog (see right) and I read him everyday. He's an editor who's first book, THE MARK, is coming out in July 2007, by MIRA. Check out his blog and head over to M.J. Rose's Buzz, Ball's & Hype and read his post on ANONYMOUS REX: How to Write Query Letters.
He gives tips like building up your query letter like a resume if you're still unpublished - submit short stories, write amusing stand-out blogs, wear orange pleather or a mohawk, and convince your agent that you're outstanding and worth representing. (I seem to remember being told NOT to send letters edged in lavender, perfumed, or gifts of chocolate, etc. Does this somehow relate to orange pleather and mohawks? Hmm....)
In the Comments Section, I asked him "What's the most memorable first line of a query letter that resulted in your buying a book, Jason?"
Apparently I'd missed the point of the post (quite possible), or he thought I was snookin' him off (also possible), but he gave me a good answer anyway.
Answer: "The best line was for a debut novel which read,'This is the best debut novel I've read in 10 years.' And the letter was written by an agent who represents Michael Connolly and James Lee Burke. Needless to say, that stuck in my head......I can't stress enough how important it is for authors to NOT query editors, but to keep honing their craft until an agent is willing to vouch for them."
He did talk about pitching to agents in the post and I'd missed that obvious clue. However, I also wanted some explanation of *what* constituted a good, if not GREAT query letter, because it's a topic that's talked around and around and around, but nobody ever seems to get down to it.
If you read his post on MJ's blog, you will get some pointers. And his marketing plan is a good one and one I espouse, even though every friend I have since I began writing six years ago is already published and I'm not - yet. I submit to agents, and my friends are published by small presses, with the exception of one friend who kept submitting to 300 agents and editors, until one agent finally picked her up and sold her book to Kensington within 3 weeks. So, persistance certainly pays off.
Given my friend's successes with small presses, I'd have to say that their marketing plan has worked well. They will have those "writing credits" in their query letters as per Jason's post.
But Jason didn't address one thing, and that's the tremendous power of Lady Luck. Yes, it's fantastic when an over-worked and under-paid editor has a pre-vamped book sent to him by a big name agent.
But, in the final analysis of writing your best, unique, cutting-edge, novel that will out-sell the Da Vinci Code - I still say that it's not just who you know in NY, it's a crap shoot. It's a lucky day when that agent you submitted to is having a slow-down in kick-ass heroine books, or finally wants to take a chance on a historical mystery with paranormal elements. Maybe you've written a romantic suspense that *doesn't* end with the hero/heroine together at the end - breaking all the rules, and she knows just which editor to send it to.
And if you're looking to get your romantic suspense/suspense/mystery in front of an agent who's actually looking for new authors (as opposed to looking for authors who're looking for a new agent)...click on the KOD Link opposite, go to the 2006 Retreat page and check out what we're offering in late September. You can pitch, or send in a partial to be critiqued for free. It doesn't get any better than that and there's still some Registration room.
Long post today, so no new recipe. For everyone north or south of the border - have a wonderful and safe long weekend!