For those who thought I was gone forever – sorry, fam! To those just joining me on my path of making things up and writing them down – WELCOME!
My name is Elena and I have a nasty habit of faking my own death. Sometimes that’s a metaphor. Let’s get started, shall we? I’m speculative fiction writer. In my neighborhood, I’m the best known author in a 5 block radius. I used to be popular on Authonomy, won awards in college, and have several publications in magazines you’ve probably never heard of. If you ever stumble upon the corpse of my fan base, say “hi.”
These days, I’m focusing on writing the kind of fantasy novels that actually get published. Which brings me to today’s problem, one that I love to never think about: Queries and How to Not Suck at Them.
Confession time – I’m absolute shit at querying. To those of you who have ever tried to sell a novel, that shouldn’t come as a shock. Cramming a 70K – 120K into 2 paragraphs is a nightmare. I’ve literally sold more work and got more attention from agents by just “being around.” I had an agent reach out to me on Authonomy, asking for a complete MS. Little did he know he’d already seen my query for it and sent it straight down the garbage disposal.
Which brings me to the next point – should a desperate writer start listening to a podcast run by one of the toughest agents out there? Yes. Yes, she should. That’s when Print Run podcast entered my life (https://www.printrunpodcast.com/). Laura Zats from Red Sofa Literary doesn’t go easy on the queries sent to her and her podcast partner, Erik Hane. After listening to a couple of episode, I signed up for their Patreon. Like, seriously, take my money.
Here’s what I learned so far:
- No one gives a damn about your bio – don’t rattle on about your childhood or your path to writing, unless it directly relates to the book. Give credentials and publication history. Mention any awards, etc.
- Don’t tell the agent *why* you’re reaching out to them, unless it’s because of a specific tweet or a something they said at a conference. Just open with the pitch.
- By the end of the second sentence, the agent needs to understand what kind of a story it is – basic plot, character’s motivation, and genre. When in doubt, read your pitch to a friend, and have them tell you what the story is about
- This is a good reminder – always, ALWAYS read the agency’s guidelines for what they want to be included with query. Don’t assume.
I will continue sharing what I learn with ya’ll, but seriously, check them out! Also, support them on Patreon and get goodies like extra podcast and your very own query review.(https://www.printrunpodcast.com/).
AAAND Join me next week as I go to meet my hero Neil Gaiman in AZ, and probably faint like a school girl. Hope he talks about American Gods!
See you next time!