Pitch this! My query research

I prefer for my blogs to be article in quality, but I have so much to say I have to cut to the chase. No opening, no pictures, just the facts. Well, the maybes.

I thought there was a standard with queries – a formula that I could follow that was adopted universally. I am a woman of rules and black and white lines that cannot be crossed. I need a framework to work with before the only frame I’m associated with is one of the Zimmer variety. I understand there are  hard and fast dos and don’ts with querying – and I’m glad there is at least that, because it means I can discard some avenues. Like with grammar. You can play around with whether you use the oxford comma – as long as you are consistent – but there is no question whether someone’s name earns a capital.

I have my head around the opening line, the researching of agents so that you can personalise  the query, the need to mention word count and genre, what you should and shouldn’t include in your bio. These always seem pretty clear. Although when I read things like: your opening sentence should be one line – just add this, this, this, and oh, this.

Where the most work lies for me is the pitch. Which part is the pitch? The whole thing? The logline? The hook? The 1-3 sentences that sums up my book? The opening sentence? ( Is this where my logline goes????) The blurb-like synopsis that follows my logline?

So, I have come across the following summaries:

A logline – one sentence ( although someone did mention two sentences..which confused me)

In my original logline, I reveal the whole concept of the book. Should I hold back and make it more general? Will they read this and then say, well I don’t need to bother being hooked now because you just served me the bait on a bed of seaweed, accompanied with a glass of brine?

This is something you can tell your friends, right? When they ask that really personal question, ” What is your book about?”

If I told them my original logline – the one I would pitch to agents –  there would be no suspense for them in the first quarter of the book.

Does that mean I don’t use this as my logline?

So I can make it general: Glory, an urban fantasy of 74000 words,  is the story of a girl who is forced to accept her role in a supernatural life when she discovers she has no control over her emotions uncovering evil.

That’s pretty general, but I can tell people that and they know the type of book it would be.

I can reveal more – but it gives the whole mystery away…..Not telling!

A 140 character or less pitch

Twitter, I’m guessing?   Now I get it. So glad I am nutting this out with my post!

I’ll put this one on the back-burner.

A one to three sentence summary

When I tried this, I still ended up revealing the concept of the book that is a mystery up until 25%. It’s certainly not what I would show a reader. I have yet to compile this one. I still don’t know if you reveal everything here. I’m losing it!

A blurb-like summary.

Is this synonymous with  the 1-3 sentence summary? I have seen mention of three to ten sentences here…

This, I understand. They say blurb and I know that this is what a reader will see. But I have seen queries where they don’t use language like I would see on the back of a book. ie they are really abrupt and to the point.

Like this: John wakes up to find his wife dead. But she isn’t dead, she’s just sleeping. Thankfully, he has the cure for that and kills her. When he takes her body to add to the rest, he notices that his favourite one is missing. He didn’t even tell Max about that one. How did he know where this one was hidden? John will not rest until Max has returned the body to it’s rightful place, but will Max hand it over when he finally has the only thing John has ever wanted?

That’s not my book lol That’s not any book – thank God! But it doesn’t sound blurby to me.

Blurbs to me are like:

Mae never thought there was anything strange about the three Sinclair brothers living across the street while growing up. Her crush on Gage Sinclair was normal teenager behaviour – even if he happened to be the middle child – but when Gage returns after a four-year disappearance acting cold and distant, Mae will learn there is nothing coincidental about their childhood association.

When Mae’s emotions begin to spike to uncontrollable levels, she realises she has bigger problems than Gage’s indifference. And losing consciousness after barrelling towards a stranger on auto pilot, sensing evil, only adds to her concerns. Gage is involved. He must be, because it’s only this incident that peaks his interest in her again.

As Mae struggles to makes sense of her emotions and the role she is forced to  play in a secret life of murder, she will have to decide if working closely with Gage will protect her from danger, or whether Gage is the very danger she should be seeking protection from.

This is mine. I worry it’s too general, too mysterious.

A 300 word synopsis

This is where I was getting my wires crossed a few months back. I thought this was the pitch in a query, where you held back enough to entice the agent. I think that if a synopsis is requested for this amount of words, it includes the whole plot, but is to the point, including main characters and main story – no sub-plots.

A detailed 1-2 page synopsis

This one is fine. Probably requested after interest has been shown with your query. More detailed than 300 word synopsis. One agent in Austalia mentioned 300-1000 words.

So you can see why I was confused a few months back with regards to what goes into what and what is revealed.

 

I think that what I will do is something like this in terms of structure.

Dear [full agent name]:

Paragraph one: Opening sentence – showing research of agent and why I’m approaching them

                             Logline – including word length and genre.

                             Maybe intended audience and writing style here.

Paragraph two: Blurb-like summary

Paragraph three: Bio

Thank for time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Me!

Please jump on board if you see I’m off track somewhere 🙂

 

 

Advertisements

14 thoughts on “Pitch this! My query research

    • Thank you so much 🙂 That’s very encouraging! I was worried I was being too vague and that there wasn’t enough of a hook. There seems to be a number of different ways you can approach this, so it’s great to have some feedback 🙂

  1. I’m not even at that stage yet and I’ve already done so much query research! If the reveal at 25% is the part that screams “read me” then I’d say go for it, add it to the blurb. You have to get their attention. I’m afraid your summary might be a little too general. A little mystery is good, but I don’t really know what your book is going to be about from this. I’m trying to help, please don’t take this the wrong way. As stated I’m not even to querying yet. What genre is your book?

  2. Molly, it’s all good 🙂 I welcome your thoughts 🙂 That’s been my concern all along. With researching queries, I get so much information, I get lost! It’s funny, I was only thinking about genres this morning. It’s young adult sub-genre urban fantasy. Or is it Fantasy sub-genre urban fantasy with young adult as the intended audience? :S

    If I told readers the 25% part, then there would be no suspense, but for agents, I might have to – leaving the hook to be: what will she do from there when she realises this is what being Chosen means? This was my original one ( again probably only for readers not an agent):

    Mae’s emotions have never been obedient, but after a fearful experience has her losing consciousness, she has to reluctantly admit that she’s lost control. When boy-next-door crush, Gage, returns after a four-year disappearance, Mae expects his support, but he acts cold and detached. She swears this Gage is a doppelganger and promises that his audacity will not go unpunished.
    Gage’s caginess is the least of Mae’s worries when she loses consciousness again after barrelling towards a stranger on autopilot at her university. She senses evil, disturbing emotions and pain, and at the news of a local university lecturer murdered, Mae wonders if she has accidentally uncovered the killer. She now has Gage’s attention, and he is quick to reveal that, like him, Mae is Chosen and has no choice but to work with him if they are protect innocents.
    As she struggles to makes sense of her role in a supernatural life, Mae will have to decide if working closely with Gage will protect her from danger as she uncovers it, or whether Gage is the very danger she should be seeking protection from.

    • Oh good, I was worried. I liked that one much better, because it tells more about what the story is about and it’s obviously fantasy. Maybe just edit it down a little so it’s shorter? I don’t mind it longer, but I think agents don’t usually have a lot of time.

      • I worry, too, sometimes. Thank you for your feedback, again. This one was my first attempt and is definitely wordy. I’m going to make it short and sharpish 🙂 I tend to get a little melodramatic when I write about Mae. And it also might be bordering on a paranormal romance tone…

  3. Thanks. I’m not querying agents at the moment, and I don’t know yet what I’ll do with my current project, but this is useful. I would just say that I think your blurb could do with being a bit shorter and snappier … a blurb has just a few seconds to catch someone’s attention, and yours just struck me as a little wordy. But I’m no expert, so feel free to take as much or as little notice of my opinion as you want!

  4. Thanks, Christopher 🙂 I’m going to try to get to the meaty parts a little faster. My 1-2 page detailed synopsis – as opposed to query letter synopsis – allows me to move through the progression from beginning to end and show my writing style and tone more effectively, and I have to remember that I’m querying an agent here, not being mysterious for a reader. I’m going to shorten this baby up 🙂

  5. It must be so frustrating having to guess at how to word your query. Guidelines are helpful, but what might hook one agent might turn another one off. You seem to be on the right track, but I guess there’s only one way to know for sure. As a reviewer, I prefer short & sweet requests, but when you’re pitching you ‘baby’ it’s not easy.

  6. The more versions I have, the easier it’s getting. But boy, do they take time! I’ve decided on shorter and sweeter, but I just can’t put it up here because the mystery would be all gone 🙂

    • Sorry for my late reply! It’s this part of the query in particular that I’ve been obsessed with. I have changed mine a lot from the general orginal one, but now I’m worried it’s too complicated and confusing. I have checked out these ones on query shark, and will send mine off to people for them to check it makes sense. Thank you so much for your advice, Lara and for stopping by 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s