Submitting

sigh

Query Lines to Make an Agent Sigh

I was going through my current batch of query letters, and while many of them are very good, it reminded me how difficult it is to write a strong pitch. You have to accomplish so many things in a concise format: introduce your book in a way that the agent wants to read it; give…
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Sharp pencils

Writing a One-Sentence Summary

Let’s discuss the one-sentence summary, also known as a logline, a hook, or a one-sentence pitch. (It is not a tagline, however.) What: About 25 words that capture your novel, memoir, or non-fiction book. Why: To get someone interested in reading your book. When to use it: The start of a query, book proposal, or…
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Secrets of a Great Pitch

Next week I’m headed out to the ACFW conference (American Christian Fiction Writers) and I’m sure I’ll see some of you there! Rachel’s post yesterday on the Books & Such blog gave some great advice about talking to agents and editors at conferences: It’s Not All About the Pitch. But I know many of you…
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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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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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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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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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woman with luggage

What Should I Bring to a Conference?

Hi Rachelle, I have a question about attending a fiction conference. Lots of posts are flying around the Internet about bringing one sheets and the first 1-2 chapters of each novel to give to editors when meeting with them. I’m going to design a really nice one-sheet with 1-paragraph synopses of my two novels. Should…
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