How to Avoid Writer's Hell: The Query-Go-Round
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by Faith Bicknell-Brown
Category: General Nonfiction/Self Improvement
Description: This is book IV of a series that addresses most of what there is to know about writing a tight, exciting story. Finally, the long-awaited The Query-Go-Round addresses writing the dreaded query letter, the synopsis, and even how to compose confusing bibliographies. In Laymen's terms and with a touch of irreverent humor (and her rolled newspaper...mwahaha!), Ms. Bicknell-Brown delivers another installment that will help you learn as you laugh and have fun.
eBook Publisher: Wild Child Publishing/Wild Child Publishing, 2008 2008
eBookwise Release Date: July 2009
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [59 KB]
Reading time: 32-44 min.
Chapter Two: The Hook, the Marketing Platform, Synopses and More
One thing I'm going to stress in this section is that if you're serious about signing with a literary agent, then you need to be serious about not only your novel, but your query letter and synopsis too. You have to have a hook, a marketing platform. What's that (groans)? That, my dear writer, is a gimmick or promotional idea that will help not only your prospective agent to sell your book to readers but also the publisher.
An example of a marketing platform is a series of novels. Think about famous or well-known authors who have a series of books that sell well. What makes them fly off the shelves? Hmm? Think about it? What angle does the author use that aids the publisher in selling hundreds to thousands of copies?
Maybe an author has a romance series where each title has the name of a flower in it.
The Daisy Chain by Jane Doe
The Pansy Panic by Jane Doe
The Rose of Rachel by Jane Doe
The Lilly in the Lei by Jane Doe
The Posey in the Pocket by Jane Doe
WHACK! (Taps newspaper against palm.) No, not that pocket. Sheesh. Get your brains out of the gutter!
Anyway, do you see where Jane Doe has established a marketing platform to sell her books from? The same thing applies for with a character. A great character can sell many, many books. Think about Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. Or perhaps each novel that you write is based on an old-fashioned candy shoppe. The Gum Drop Capers by Jane Doe, books I through X.
And if you write non-fiction, you are in dire need of a good platform. Are you teaching readers how to juggle chainsaws? Well, honey, not only should you be an expert at this rare ability, but you had better have a way to promote chainsaw juggling in such a manner that every person who sees your book is going to want to run out and put his or her life in jeopardy the moment he or she plunks down that $19.95. (Oh, wait. Gas prices shot up again. Make that $29.99. Jeez, what was I thinking?)
It's like my AWH books. The title alone is a great platform: Avoid Writers' Hell. What writer, especially an aspiring one, doesn't want to avoid as many potholes in the road (for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to ... eh, never mind) to publishing as possible? In doing so, I reveal my experience, what has worked for me, and I teach everything in a humorous manner.
Find that hook, that gimmick, if you will, or that marketing platform to stand upon and make it a damn fine one! Any agent worth his weight in salt will see a good platform and snatch up your manuscript unless the market is saturated with the topic or genre.
Okay, when you write a query letter just stick to just the facts, ma'am. Don't get wordy. Don't be cute. And most of all, don't be boring! You have to come up with a hook in your query and grab that agent's attention within the first ten seconds.
The first ten seconds, you say? Yup, and you can bet your keyboard on that, honey.
Imagine that you've written a murder mystery. What can you say about your novel in the first line or two that will pique the agent's attention?
Mark, a gay singer married to a famous actress, is dead, mysteriously murdered in his sleep and nailed to his bedroom ceiling.
Whoa. I wrote that and it got my attention! (Snort!)
That is a hook.
From there, launch into a mini synopsis such as I showed you with my two queries in chapter one. In the letter, only convey what will grab the agent's attention and keep it, but do it in as few words as possible.
So you have your query written, you feel you have a good marketing program, and now you wonder how on earth to write a synopsis. Well, I hate writing them too. They are tedious and boring. Again, stick to just the facts.
1. Sum up the highlights of each chapter.
2. Write the synopsis in present tense as if you're telling the story to your friend over coffee.
3. A synopsis for a novel should be 2 to 5 pages. A synopsis for non-fiction can be between 10 to 20 pages, depending on what the subject matter is.
4. Font and point size: see chapter one.
5. Single-space the paragraphs and put one space between each paragraph.
6. Use a header such as LAST NAME--TITLE and put the page numbers in the upper right-hand corner of each page except for the first page.
7. One-inch margins all around.