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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Writing Picture-Perfect Query Letters

So, last week we talked about "Five Editing Myths Waiting To Trip Up Your Campaign to Market Your Work." This week it's "Five Things to Avoid for a Pristine Query Letter." I posted last week's editing tip on this blog, too.

BTW, did I tell you all that The Frugal Editor won its second award. It is top publishing book for Reader Views Literary Award in addition to USA Book News' Best Book in the writing category. This article includes just a few of the things I gleaned from the chapters on editing query letters. Many of the ones in the book and this article I got from my interviews of many of our top agents . I was really pleased how many agents were willing to help me help you. (-:


Five Things to Avoid for a Pristine Query Letter

We are selling our work when we approach any gatekeeper, an editor, an agent, a contest judge. Here are five little things to avoid so you'll look like the professional you are.

Don't tell the gatekeeper you always wanted to write. You can think of something more pertinent to your cause (and something more original!) than that.

Don't use the verb "quote" when you want the noun "quotation." Some stylebooks will tell you that it's OK, but agents can be a picky lot. Use zero-tolerance grammar rules for your queries.

Don't pitch more than one book at time. You want to give that one your best shot.

Don't call your novel a "fictional novel." By definition, a novel is fiction.

Don't overdo exclamation marks, question marks, the use of sentence fragments. (Yes, fragments are acceptable when they're used for a good reason but limit them, please.)

Here's one last suggestion for fiction writers 'cause they're so often neglected when it comes to marketing. Avoid using italics for internal thought. Yes, it's being done more and more but it is often a crutch that fiction writers use to avoid writing great transitions and point-of-view; the best agents will recognize it as such.

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author THIS IS THE PLACE; HARKENING: A COLLECTION OF STORIES REMEMBERED; TRACINGS, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books, THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER: HOW TO DO WHAT YOUR PUBLISHER WON'T; and THE FRUGAL EDITOR: PUT YOUR BEST BOOK FORWARD TO AVOID HUMILIATION AND ENSURE SUCCESS.
Her other blogs include TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com and AuthorsCoalition.blogspot.com, a blog that helps writers and publishers turn a ho-hum book fair booth into a sizzler.


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Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits and consults on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success on Amazon. Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com.

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Great Editing Is Great Marketing

Your First Marketing Offense: Write and Edit Great Query Letters