Hooray! Congrats! You’ve written a book! What’s that? You’ve edited to too! Oh my word! You’re ahead of the game! You’re ready for anything. You’re a superstar! There’s just one small thing now. Just a tiny thing really. You’ll probably need a way of pitching this magnificent beauty.
Just some kind of way of letting people know what’s going on, you know? It’s honestly nothing really. Do’t even worry about it. Definitely don’t obsess so much over it you start challenging yourself to pitch cereals or buses or house gardens as books because is it the book or me? The book or me?
Most people decide to write a query but you could also send something in smoke signals or create an interpretive dance. Dancing is harder for me than balancing equations so I can’t help you there but I can help you query. Maybe. Potentially. Badly. This is how sixteen year old me would have approached querying.
Dear Agent, You like reading books. I like writing books. You + My Book =
Twenty five year old me tbh wants to approach things similarly but I have picked up some great tips along the way even if I do want to write bad queries. Here they are:
1. Have a definite hook
This sounds kind of like ‘yeah duh, Mia, obviously have a good hook have you even ever internetted? That is what everyone is saying’ but it is worth repeating. Every book has one, you just have to find it and use it. You hook is your special weapon. You can release it at any given moment and be assured of attention. Your hook is tres important.
2. Follow a natural order
Just kind of in my personal opinion jumping from pitching the book to how long it is then back to why you want to work with this particular agent or press then back to the title of the book then on to more pitching is a recipe for brain whiplash. Nobody likes brain whiplash so yeah. What we want to offer is more of a brain hot bath or a brain rollercoaster where we almost approach whiplash but don’t quite go there.
3. Be quicker than slow
Do not just synopsis-ize your book. I find it as hard as pulling teeth to write a synopsis so this is no risk for me but it is a big risk. A query is not a synopsis. A synopsis is a list of things that happen. A query is enticing. It is a sneak peak through a curtain. It is a delicately written clue left on a desk. It is the beginning of something beautiful.
4. Ask around
I have found asking other people what they think of my query a very useful tool. I mean, queries are like books in that everything is v subjective but it’s good to have a crew on hand to let you know if you’re being too weird or if they feel like you’re not quite there. Querytracker forum can be a good place to start getting help if you have nobody to ask yet
5. Be brave
Having said all of that, whatever floats your boat is probably perfect. As long as it’s well-written and engaging, I think a query is what you make of it. You have to be brave to make things. And you need to carry that bravery through when you pitch them too <3