September 10, 2013

Dos Of Pitching Your Novel

Last week I mentioned some Don'ts about how to pitch your novel to an agent (or editor, or Hollywood, or any pro, really), as described in Donald Maass's The Career Novelist.  As promised, here are some things that could tip the scales in your favor instead:

  1. Making Contact:
    1. Write a letter (or email) -- check the agent's website for preference (key if you want to make a good impression.
      1. "A relaxed but businesslike approach is probably best."
      2. Make it simple and straightforward:
        1. What the writer wants.
        2. What is being offered.
        3. Information helpful in selling the work.
        4. Something (but not much) about the writer.

      3. Make your manuscript sound appealing within a few lines (not paragraphs) --difficult but not impossible.  Answer the main questions:
        1. Where is your story set?
        2. Who is your hero(ine)?
        3. What is the main problem he/she must overcome?
        4. Where do you think this novel fits in the marketplace?
      4. Editors appreciate brevity, especially when sifting through hundreds of query letters every week.
    2. Model Query Letter:
      1. Proper letter format shows that the writer is serious and businesslike.

      2. Introductory paragraph makes a connection (even if remote) between agent and writer and states the writer's purpose.
      3. Short summary of the story including 3 key ingredients to the story:
        1. setting
        2. protagonist
        3. problem
      4. Writer's biography that's relevant to writing career/story.  If not writing experience is available (yet), just keep it short and simple.
      5. Closing which offers two options for submission (if writing a letter instead of an email, you may enclose a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope, or SASE).

There are many sites out there from agents/editors that offer help on how to write awesome queries (or how to avoid writing repelling ones).  One I find rather amusing is Query Shark's blog.

Hope this has been helpful!

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