Queries, Proposals & Pitches

Taking the Mystery Out of Query Letters

One of the most common complaints writers have these days is how hard it is to write a query letter. I agree, it’s a difficult task. You may not realize that agents have to write query letters (“pitch letters”) too. Whenever we send a manuscript to an editor for consideration, what do you think accompanies…
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Identify Your Novel’s Genre

Writers often ask me, “How do I figure out what genre my book is?” While the answer is straightforward for some people, it can be a tricky question for others. It becomes even more complicated if you’re also resisting the idea that you have to put a classification or label on your novel at all.…
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Runners

Know Your Competition

In your publication journey, there’s a good chance you’ll be asked, at some point, to provide some “comps” for your book. Why do we ask this? Why do we care? What are the advantages of writing a comprehensive “Competition” section in your book proposal, or being able to talk intelligently about other books in the same…
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Stinky

It’s Just Not For Me

Awhile back I was working on selling a series of books by one of my clients. I received a “pass” letter from an editor, someone I respect and who is very good at their job, but they really didn’t like the book I was pitching. The pass letter said things along the lines of, “It…
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Globe

I Write Multiple Genres – How Do I Choose An Agent?

Dear Rachelle: I am about to search for an agent. My first book is a memoir, and an agent said he would like to see it. My second book will be a novel, set in South Africa. I believe it will sell very well in South Africa, less so in the USA. Do I select…
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broken heart

Decoding Query Rejections

In yesterday’s blog comments, Marielena wrote about the responses she was getting to her query letter. She said: I know it’s probably individual to each agent, but what makes a book “not a good fit” — is that a polite way of saying the book still needs work? That’s a good question, Marielena. Yes, it’s…
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Clicking Send

Simultaneous Submissions

Writers often ask whether it’s okay to do simultaneous submissions, meaning sending your query to multiple agents at one time. Just to ease your mind, most agents agree that it doesn’t make sense not to do simultaneous submissions. It’s too inefficient to send something to one agent, then wait until they respond before sending to…
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What Not to Say in a Query

“Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been a huge fan of candy corn.” Okay, I know you’d never put that in your query (unless your book is about candy corn). It tells me something about you, yes, but it’s not actually relevant to the project you’re pitching me. You know better than to do…
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Chuck_Sambuchino

The Worst Storyline Ever Contest

Guest Blogger: Chuck Sambuchino To celebrate the release of the brand-new 2012 Guide to Literary Agents, I am bringing back one of my most popular recurring contests: The “Worst Storyline Ever” Contest. Except this time, it’s hosted on Rachelle’s blog. So if you’re looking for an agent and want a big database, check out the…
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Classic books

How Important Is Your Book Title?

I was talking to a writer who mentioned she hadn’t worked too hard to come up with a great title for her book. When I asked her why, she said she’d been to a workshop taught by an editor at a major publishing house, who said, “Don’t get too attached to your title — there’s a good…
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Advice for Agents (Including Me)

I’m teaching at two writers’ conferences this month, and that means I’ll have quite a few one-on-one meetings with writers. There are plenty of blog posts giving advice to authors for how to behave at conferences… but for some reason, we never see advice for agents! I guess we’re just supposed to know this stuff by osmosis or something.…
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Woman bored

Don’t Put Me to Sleep!

Hi Rachelle, I’m working on a book proposal, and was wondering if I should interject my personality/humor into it? Or are they usually personality minus? I believe I tend to write better when I can be humorous and use my own voice. Thoughts…? Signed, Don’t Want To Bore You     Dear Don’t Want, Would YOU…
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stack of letters

When to Re-Query an Agent

One of the most common questions I receive is, “When is is okay to send another query to an agent who previously passed?” Sometimes people are talking about re-sending a query for the same book that was already queried; the writer has either improved the query or improved the book and wants another shot. Other times,…
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Rejected

Think YOU Don’t Like Pass Letters?

Neither do I. Here’s a look at some that have hit my inbox: “It’s not clear who the intended audience really is.” “It felt like a class research paper at times.” “I like the plot and hate the execution.” “The setup has so much potential for conflict, yet the story is dull.” “The content and…
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writers-life

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