Two Things That Don’t Help a Query (Part 2)
“My mother [best friend, husband, Great Aunt Matilda] told me I needed to write my story.”
“For years, all my friends have been telling me I should try to get my work published.”
“God told me to write this book.”
Believe it or not, none of this is relevant in a query. It doesn’t help an agent make a decision. It doesn’t make your query any more attractive. Our experience tells us that there is rarely a correlation between how many people told you to write your story, and how good or publishable that story really is. And yes, this even includes God.
And since so many people say these things in their queries, once again you sound cliché if you say them.
Let’s talk about all those friends and relatives. They might truly love your work. But they most likely don’t know the publishing biz. They haven’t researched what books are already out there that would compete with yours. They don’t understand exactly how high the bar is to get published these days. So trust me, they may be giving you some valuable and much-needed encouragement, but they are not giving you informed advice.
What about God? Well, he works in mysterious ways, as we all know. I already wrote a whole post about that here. Most likely, if you are feeling strongly called by God to write your story, and even if you feel like he’s telling you in no uncertain terms to share the message with the world, it still doesn’t mean God has promised you a commercial publishing contract. Because in my humble opinion, if God truly intends for you to share your book through traditional publishing, he’ll also give you the talent and the persistence to become a good enough writer. If you’re writing non-fiction, he’ll give you the credentials and the platform to sell your particular book, or at least the drive and seriousness to make it happen.
Please, please, please: Don’t tell agents that others are telling you to get your work published. The only exception is if you have an honest-to-goodness, legitimate referral. That is, “Dear Agent, Your client Suzy Q suggested that I contact you for possible representation.” The agent can verify that Suzy Q does indeed believe your writing is ready for publication.
Q4U: So, have you done this? Played the “all my friends” or the “God” card? Even if you haven’t, go ahead and tell us here: What’s your experience with others telling you to seek publication?