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 🙂

 

 

Post-submission options

So, I’m at a crossroads or is it a crossroad? If it’s angry, it’s probably safer if it’s alone. Either way, I could take a spin – a great smoke-inducing, environment-cluttering burnout – and call them the rageroads instead of the crossroads, but I’m actually dealing fine – even though I normally can’t resist  playing with words and embellishing the truth… But to be truthful, I’m in the middle of an octopusroad, or whatever an intersection would be called if it where based on a thirteen-armed creature. Yep. It’s that scary.

What do I do with my time, now that I can cross step one off my list?

1) Contact local literary agents

This involves redoing my synopsis as some require a 300-1000 word synopsis and mine is only 300. Technically, I would be complying with the terms, but I’m sure they want more than 300 words.

I tried to just add more information to my existing one, but this was a bad idea. I need to start from scratch.

2) Contact overseas literary agents

I have sent off for a number of books that can help: Writers and Artists Yearbook 2015, 2015 Guide to Literary Agents: The most trusted Guide to Getting Published and The Firstwriter.com Writer’s handbook 2015.

It was also suggested that you can purchase The Directory of the American Book Publishing Industry but wow, is that expensive!

I know that I can look to the internet for a lot of this information, but I like my time away from the screen and can look at this information more clearly in book format.

3) Submit to digital publishers

Thankfully, having subscribed to QLD Writer’s Centre, I am able to see a number of digital publishing opportunities that I wasn’t aware of. Do agents also sell to digital publishers? I guess so – more research!

4) Research the submission proposal and queries further

I have ordered a few books to help here from the library. An Insider’s Guide to Publishing and Write the Perfect Book Proposal: ten that sold and why.

5) Seek out writing training

I have ordered Penguin Writer’s Manual to see what it offers.

There is also a mentor opportunity – which I have to pay for – which will also highlight my flaws.

6) Have my manuscript assessed

I did not know this service was available until two weeks ago! One I checked cost  about $600 for the amount of words in my MS.

Apparently, having this done, and including this, along with any other workshops attended/memberships held, in your query letter can help highlight how serious you are about your career. I should have done this!

7) Research mythology, fighting and weapons for book two.

I have a ridiculous amount of research to do for book two. While I am unsure what I should do, I could maybe take a few weeks off to solidly research.  This will at least satisfy some of book two’s need for attention.

8) Continue to write book two

Really, I should still be writing 500 words a day to keep the flow, but I am struggling. I still think book one and I need some time together.

9) Network and attend workshops

This, I will try and do as they become available. As per my previous post, I am baby-stepping my way into networking. There was a lot to be gained just from an hour and a half last night! Thank you Louise Cusack!

10) Investigate publishing overseas

I’ll be seeing what I can glean from the above books.

11) Invest more time into blogging and building a platform

12) Rethink my pitch

I’m trying to sell my book proposal as urban fantasy. Upon thinking about young adult and trying to find comparative novels, it became obvious that this may be a hard sell. I have romance throughout, but I played this down. I think I need to rethink the way my proposal is packaged. I’m not selling my soul to any devil here. There are romantic elements that may make my book more marketable if I show they are there. The romance stays the same; it was always there.

13) Revamp my MS

The first ten pages has to be engaging. To me, it was, but I have to think on this again. The prologue, as well received as it was by beta readers, might have to go – even though it is short and has you wondering – who the hell just killed that guy and why! Even the synopsis might need to be changed to suit a more paranormal romance tone – if I decide to repackage.

 

In hindsight – more like, as I grab hindsight by the throat and threaten to harm it should it speak up – I should have done even more research. I felt like I’d done enough, though.

What do I prioritise?

I could treat my writing like I did my professional career as an account manager. Divide my day into increments and do a little of everything. I mean, the customers don’t stop calling just because I’ve allocated a day to paperwork. Some activities just need to be attended to – every day. Should this be book two? If you should write every day, then surely this should mean that every day I write at least 500 words. The rest of the day could be research for book two, blogging, revamping my query, synopsis and MS.

There is a lot to consider, isn’t there?

We are told to get the story out first. And now that it is out, like a newborn, the world it is introduced to is vast, unpredictable and confusing.

If anything stands out that I am missing or you would like to share your thoughts on where you are, please do 🙂