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Entyqua
05-08-2010, 02:02 AM
OK I have been researching and reading up on querying for months, and finally got the gumption to start...currently I have only sent about a dozen...I feel that I am missing some pertinent part of the query process that doesn't get explained well...

First of all...A query letter is basically introducing yourself, and hooking some one into your work...

Synopsis is a 3-10 page summary of the book

Then there are sample chapters/pages

Now I am seeing requests for Bios...What do you include in a Bio if you are just starting out?

Now I have mostly done ONLY email communications so far. I understand the formatting is a big thing when submitting, but once you paste that sucker into the email all formatting goes out the window...

So Questions I have are numerous, but these are the main ones..

When submitting just a query. You keep it at 12 pt courier...Standard email format as I read on an agents blog... I have read that you should put your contact info at the bottom...then I have read it should be at the top. I have read the page count should precede the hook, and I have read the hook should precede the page count...in this instance do you just pick a style and cross your fingers?

The confusion for me comes from the Synopsis, and sample pages...

They are supposed to be in manuscript format double spaced courier 12 pt. Ect...that does not translate into an email...so when I paste my Synopsis or sample chapters in the body of the email the formatting is all wrong...

What is the proper procedure for this?
And 2 pages from manuscript looks like three paragraphs...is this also ok?
What about the prologue? Do you send that as a sample chapter?


With the very cold rejections I keep getting, I cant help but wonder if I am doing it all wrong! They are all form rejections, or even just a sentence...saying "this is not right for me have a nice day"

Im not giving up or discouraged...I just want to keep growing and make sure I am doing it write...

C.T. Richmond
05-08-2010, 04:39 AM
Hi Entyqua!

Have you thought about posting your query in Query Letter Hell? (You can find it in the "Share Your Work" section of AW. Password: vista) You can paste your query letter there and have it workshopped by other members of the forum. It's a fantastic resource, and you can read examples of successful queries as well.

To answer your questions...


I have read that you should put your contact info at the bottom...then I have read it should be at the top.

In an equery, you should put your contact info at the bottom of the message.


What do you include in a Bio if you are just starting out?

Are you a member of any writer's organizations, like SCBWI? If so, I'd put that. I wouldn't sweat the bio too much though... Just keep it short.


I have read the page count should precede the hook, and I have read the hook should precede the page count...in this instance do you just pick a style and cross your fingers?

From what I can tell, this varies from writer to writer. Some of us like to put the title, genre, and word count before the hook while others do the opposite. For me, I started off with my hook unless I had a personal connection to the agent (ie, I attended a conference where they had spoke).


The confusion for me comes from the Synopsis, and sample pages...

If you're having problems with formatting, you could try pasting your work into Notepad first. Then, copy and paste it into the body of your email. (However, I've noticed this eliminates the double-spacing.)

Hope this helps a little!

DeadlyAccurate
05-08-2010, 05:46 AM
Don't bother trying to double space your sample pages in the body of the email. Just format single space with an extra space between paragraphs. (The way you wrote your forum post).

kullervo
05-08-2010, 06:07 AM
And be sure to send only what they ask for. Not all of them want a synopsis, not all want sample pages. They don't care about your bio if it's not writing-related or doesn't speak to the book you've written. Keep it short and simple. The query letter itself (pitch and bio, if any) should be under 250 words.

Danthia
05-08-2010, 04:33 PM
When submitting just a query. You keep it at 12 pt courier...Standard email format as I read on an agents blog... I have read that you should put your contact info at the bottom...then I have read it should be at the top. I have read the page count should precede the hook, and I have read the hook should precede the page count...in this instance do you just pick a style and cross your fingers?
Choose a style you prefer. There are a variety of correct ways to submit. If you're querying an agent who has expressed a preference somewhere (blog, website, article) then do what they say. Otherwise it doesn't make any difference.

They are supposed to be in manuscript format double spaced courier 12 pt. Ect...that does not translate into an email...so when I paste my Synopsis or sample chapters in the body of the email the formatting is all wrong...
Format it in the email so it's easy to read. It doesn't have to be double spaced and whatnot. Clarity is key in all things writing, but especially email.

And 2 pages from manuscript looks like three paragraphs...is this also ok?
That's fine. They know "pages" vary by formatting.

What about the prologue? Do you send that as a sample chapter?
Mixed bag on this. Most prologues don't do anything to advance a story. They're just setup or background that can usually be cut (not saying this is true for you if you have one, just generalizing here). Most advice will say skip the prologue (agent advice included). However, if the prologue is vital to the story and chapter one doesn't make sense without the prologue, then add it.

With the very cold rejections I keep getting, I cant help but wonder if I am doing it all wrong! They are all form rejections, or even just a sentence...saying "this is not right for me have a nice day"
This is normal (though if you're getting zero response, that does indicate a problem). It could be your query, it could be the book, it could be formatting. But unless the formatting is totally whacked so they can't read it, or you're ignoring their guidelines completely (sending attachments when they say paste in email), agents forgive a lot. They know this is hard. You might consider posting your query in the SYW section and getting some feedback on it.

Jamesaritchie
05-08-2010, 07:47 PM
First of all...A query letter is basically introducing yourself, and hooking some one into your work. Synopsis is a 3-10 page summary of the book.

A good query is just this, tough it should contain enough of a synopsis to make an agent ask for a full. A synopsis, on the other hand, should a one to five page summary, not a three to ten. Standard lengths are one page, three page, and five page.

What do you include in a Bio if you are just starting out

Anything that pertains to teh book. Writing credits, a stint at Clarion, and MFA, etc. Or if you're a police officer, and you've written a police procedural, mention that.

When submitting just a query. You keep it at 12 pt courier...Standard email format as I read on an agents blog... I have read that you should put your contact info at the bottom...then I have read it should be at the top. I have read the page count should precede the hook, and I have read the hook should precede the page count...in this instance do you just pick a style and cross your fingers?

Just about everyting should be Courier 12, except for queries. Courier 12 is for ease of editing, not ease of reading. A query is a business letter, and youu should use a business font. This is where Times New Roman shines. No one is going to edit your query, but they will read it, so this means Times instead of Courier.

I'd rather have the genre and page count last. Why start a query with a boring sentence?

They are supposed to be in manuscript format double spaced courier 12 pt. Ect...that does not translate into an email...so when I paste my Synopsis or sample chapters in the body of the email the formatting is all wrong...

Format however an agent or editor requests. If there is no stipulation, single-space, and leave an extra line between paragrapghs. But if they ask for full format, and some do, give it to them. As an editor, it gets real tiresome having writers say you can't format an e-mail. Of course you can. It's extremely simple to do, if you have MS Office, and you never, ever have to cut and paste anything. This has been true for many years.

It's also possible with most current non-Outlook e-mail clients, though there's more of a learning curve.

What about the prologue? Do you send that as a sample chapter?

If the book needs the prologue to make sense, you should definitely send it. If you book doesn't need the prologue, it shouldn't have one at all.

Entyqua
05-09-2010, 12:14 AM
The prologue of my book introduces the happenings of eighteen years earlier that left my FMC in the predicament she is currently in. It could be said take it or leave it, but I think it adds something to the story...and I love the prose in it...*shrug*

So the question is, because it introduces past events, Should I begin with current events, and leave the past in the past...but I really think it adds something .

I am off to post my query and perhaps my synopsis where you all said to before I go farther.

Thanks for everything guys! This place is AMAZING!

Elizabeth Holloway
05-09-2010, 10:22 AM
My 0.02, for what it's worth.

I have heard many blogging agents say they are not too keen on prologues. If the prologue does little for the current story, ditch it, in my opinion. If there are little tidbit's in there that are important, weave them into the current story.

People skip prologues, myself included.

Good luck in QLH. It's a great resource with great people who are always willing to rip shread destroy help. :D

Jamesaritchie
05-09-2010, 06:30 PM
My 0.02, for what it's worth.

I have heard many blogging agents say they are not too keen on prologues. If the prologue does little for the current story, ditch it, in my opinion. If there are little tidbit's in there that are important, weave them into the current story.

People skip prologues, myself included.

Good luck in QLH. It's a great resource with great people who are always willing to rip shread destroy help. :D


Some few people skip prologues. And they're the ones who then spend time complaining that the story didn't make sense. Skipping a prologue is what makes no sense at all.

Elizabeth Holloway
05-10-2010, 04:48 AM
Some few people skip prologues. And they're the ones who then spend time complaining that the story didn't make sense. Skipping a prologue is what makes no sense at all.

Not to be argumentative, JAR, but I usually learn the information I need in the bulk of the story, with the characters I actually care about. If I find I am not understanding something, I will go back and read it.

Regardless, if the prologue adds only a little to the main story (as was suggested) and the writer feels the story could go without it (as was stated) I think it should be cut. But again, that is my opinion, having never seen this book, and knowing absolutely nothing about it. In other words, take my suggestions with a freakin' huge grain of salt. :D