Friday 27 August 2010


There are so many fantastic pieces of advice in this post by Ann Crispin on Writer Beware, and all of them are ones I mention in my talks. So, I can do no better than send you over there. Take every one of them to heart.

By the way, a query letter is a US term, quickly coming over here. It is so similar to the UK "covering letter"  that you can follow all the advice in this article for UK and US submissions. The only relevant difference is that the UK one will be accompanied by a separate synopsis, on top of the elevator pitch in the letter.

I would add one thing, though. Ann mentions two sorts of query letter - the standard, recommended one and the one that is "weird, quirky, but so irresistible and creative that it will capture the attention of an agent even though it's far outside the "accepted" model. This kind of query letter springs from true talent and writing genius, and really can't be taught. I've seen some of them, and they leave me in awe -- and they immediately captured the interest of the agent(s) they were sent to."

I cannot emphasise enough how rare it is for someone to be able to pull off this latter type of query. Many of us think we've written something brilliantly quirky, when in fact it's just plain weird. Ann is not recommending the plain weird, the weird-for-the-sake-of-it. She is talking about genius. So, your better bet is the "normal" query letter.

The advice is all there - no excuses for not taking it on board. If nothing else, it gives you a great insight into the mind of the agent or publisher receiving your submission.


catdownunder said...

I sometimes have to help people write letters to VIPs. The advice given here sounds very similar to the sort of letter that works if you want a VIP to take notice. Note one, the VIP will not read it first - their secretary will read it.
Note two, if it is longer than one page (for the VIP) it will not get read.
I imagine this is also true of the best queries. Yes?

Stroppy Author said...

Timely :-)

I've posted possibly the worst query letter ever (or summary thereof) on my blog.

David John Griffin said...
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David John Griffin said...
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Nick Cross said...

I tried both routes with a previous novel - the businesslike and the quirky - and I have to say that the quirky letter did get me attention from a couple of agents who then read the whole MS. Considering that I can now look at that book and see how unsuitable it was for the YA market from the start (way too much sex and swearing), I guess the quirky letter can bear fruit if done right.

David John Griffin said...

Thank you, another good post. :-)