I have a guest for Write Tip Wednesday today. Many authors struggle on writing a query letter. It take different skills to condense a novel into a few short paragraphs and tell all the exciting selling points. My friend M.S Kaye and I are swapping blogs. I’m on her blog talking about the importance of secondary characters and she is here with query tips!
Thanks for having me, Haley!
Welcome to my Publishing Tips Blog Tour. I’ve put together ten short, easy tips that have been invaluable on my journey to publication. Follow my tour to see them all. Tour stops will be posted on my website: http://booksbymsk.com/?page_id=428
Stop 4: Query Letter Tips
Ah, the query letter. It’s like uttering a curse word (almost as bad as synopsis!). But don’t freak yourself out about it. It’s not that bad, I promise. There is no true “right” way to do it (the right way is whatever sells the darn book!), but here are a few tips:
- Read the guidelines. Many publishers and agents will post directions on their website about how they want queries to look and how they want to receive them. Follow the directions.
- Three sections. Most publishers and agents expect queries to be arranged like this:
- Introduction—Keep it short; include the basics.
Example: I am seeking publication of my paranormal young adult novel Strong as Death, complete at 80,000 words. Strong as Death is about a girl who finds out what it means to have a mother who is a modern woman and a father who is a 19th-century gentleman ghost. I am including (whatever this publisher/agent asks for, nothing else).
- Hook Them. Include a short synopsis (think book jacket blurb).
Example: Ilona runs from her sheltering mother in order to find the truth, why she’s seeing people who are invisible to everyone else. A mysterious boy named Archer guides her through Brooklyn and introduces her to Hendrick, the man who claims to be her father—though he died in 1890. Ilona must discover not only what she must do to rid the city of Soll, a sadistic and powerful spirit, but also what it means to be half ghost. She proves what her mother told her—love is stronger than death.
- Author Bio—Include your accomplishments as a writer and anything that makes you qualified to write this particular book (usually for nonfiction projects). This can include any publications (no matter how small), contests, leadership roles in the writing community, etc. This is not the same as a book jacket bio.
Example: My first published novel, Fight Princess, was released September 2, 2013 from Liquid Silver Books under the pen name M. S. Kaye; this book also won second place in the 2013 Royal Palm Literary Awards competition. Once, a women’s inspirational novel, which was released November 7, 2013 from Jupiter Gardens Press, was awarded second place in the 2010 Royal Palm Literary Awards, and my romantic suspense novel, Endless as the Rain, which is under contract with Wild Child Publishing, won third place in the 2011 competition. Strong as Death, a young adult paranormal novel, is also under contract with Jupiter Gardens Press, and my romantic suspense novel, Kindling the Past, is under contract with Liquid Silver Books. Several of my creative nonfiction pieces have been published in literary magazines: “Signs” and “Kung Fu Bob” in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, and “Signs” and “St. Augustine Library” in CC and D Magazine. I am a fourth degree black belt in Taekwondo, which helps me to be able to write physically dynamic and technically accurate scenes and add some kick-butt attitude to my writing. I am an active member of the Florida Writers’ Association and am co-leader of the River City Writers chapter, as well as leader of the Clay County Critique Group. I have also recently accepted a position as a content editor at Hekate Press.
- Address the agent or acquisitions editor correctly. Are they a Mr. or a Ms.? Also, verify he/she stills works there. Always check the publisher’s site—it’ll be the most current.
- Give them a way to contact you. Include your email address and phone number.
- Don’t forget your manners. Thank them for taking the time to consider your work. These are very busy people who read plenty of crap to get to those few gems (like yours!).
- Have personality but be professional. Again, read their website—follow their lead on how much personality you should show. But always be professional.
Strong as Death
Book one of the Born from Death series
by M.S. Kaye
Ilona runs from her sheltering mother in order to find the truth, why she’s seeing people who are invisible to everyone else. A mysterious boy named Archer guides her through Brooklyn and introduces her to Hendrick, the man who claims to be her father—though he died in 1890. Ilona must discover not only what she must do to rid the city of Soll, a sadistic and powerful spirit, but also what it means to be half ghost. She proves what her mother told her—love is stronger than death.
Publisher (all formats): http://jupitergardenspress.com/shop/strong-as-death/
Barnes and Noble: http://m.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1119548501?ean=2940149439164
M.S. Kaye has several published books under her black belt. A transplant from Ohio, she resides with her husband Corey in Jacksonville, Florida, where she tries not to melt in the sun. Find suspense and the unusual at www.BooksByMSK.com.
Contact M. S. Kaye at:
www.Twitter.com/MSKosciuszko (Yes, that’s my real last name. See why I use a pen name?)
Another twenty yards and she’d be out of the darkness of the trees and almost to the sidewalk, within reach of the light from the streetlamps.
A figure stepped out from behind a large oak, directly into Ilona’s path.
Ilona stopped and searched for a way around.
“What are you doing?” a rough voice growled.
Ilona recognized it immediately, even before she registered Archer’s face.
“It’s none of your business what I’m doing,” she said.
He moved closer. “You’re making it goddamned impossible to protect you.”
“You can’t protect me.”
His jaw tightened, and he glared. “What in the hell do you think I’ve been doing?”
“I’m honestly not sure.”
His voice rose. “You’d be lying frozen dead in a gutter right now if it wasn’t for me. You saw what happened in the shelter—you’d have been attacked by now if I hadn’t been around.”
Her tone was quiet, calm. “I know how you scared them away.”
“I told you I have a talent for creating fear. It comes in useful.”
“But you don’t like it.”
He said nothing.
“And I know you’ve been around,” she said.
He raised his eyebrows as if she was being slow.
“Before you asked me if I was lost,” she said. “You were there—when the car hit me.”
His expression sobered.
She waited for a response.
Finally, he said, “I’ve been around.”
“Will you answer one question? And be honest?”
“I give as much honesty as I can.”
Her lips curved a little. That was perhaps the most honest response he had yet given.
She moved closer, and he backed away.
“No,” she said.
“When you turned the corner and asked if I was lost,” she said, “you leaned your shoulder on the wall. How did you do that?”
His eyebrows pulled together.
“You’re really good at it,” she said. “It took me awhile to realize you never actually touch anything, that you stay out of the light, that you don’t get cold, your breath doesn’t come out in puffs in the cold like everyone else’s, you never let anyone close, near enough to realize you have no scent, to feel the static when you get too close.”
He took a step back, as if in self-defense.
“Don’t try to lie anymore,” she said. “I know what you are.”