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jcmoto
02-29-2012, 06:11 PM
I've had little to no luck with queries. Maybe they suck - I don't know. But I also have no credentials - I've never published anything.

I know being published previously is a big deal when trying to sell a new novel. I have the opportunity to publish another novel with an e-book publisher, but it's a romance novel, and I'm no longer writing romance, nor do I think I'll ever write it again in the future. I'm now writing women's fiction, so it's not that far off, but definitely not romance.

My question is this - is it better to have published something even though it's not in the same genre? I don't want to put myself out there as a romance writer when I'm not (and to be fair, the novel in question is borderline anyway, but the publisher publishes mostly romance). But obviously I need to beef up my resume.

Dilemmas, dilemmas...

quicklime
02-29-2012, 06:22 PM
JC,

If your query isn't getting ANY bites, it is the query, or perhaps the first sample pages. New, unpublished authors get sold all the time. ALL the time--otherwise there would be no debut novels.

A prior credential is nice to have, and won't hurt, but it needs to say something serious.....like a short that went someplace competetive, or a prior sale with a major publisher....if your e-book sold extremely well, it says you have written something commercially viable before so you have a track record, and that can help even if it is a different genre. If it sold a few hundred copies, it only says you finished a different book, and I'd leave that out because it doesn't add anything.

Going back to the beginning though, you DON'T need credentials to sell. You need a query that grabs the agent by the short hairs and leads them to your sample pages....and sample pages that do the same thing, all but forcing the agent to ask for a sample chapter or three, or a full.

Submit your query in QLH, let folks pick at it and have a look. submit your first 5 pages in the appropriate genre section of SYW, and do the same. see what people have to say. But believe me, agents take new authors.

Calla Lily
02-29-2012, 06:46 PM
Dittoing everything quicklime said. I had zero credentials when I got an agent. :)

Toothpaste
02-29-2012, 07:11 PM
Actually you are misinformed. Being published previously isn't a big deal. Okay, that's a bit of a lie. If you HAVE published previously, then that's definitely something agents want to know about. But you don't have to have published previously in order to get an agent.

I certainly hadn't. Very few of my other agented writer friends did either.

jcmoto
02-29-2012, 07:29 PM
Thanks, everyone. I'm confident in my writing, and mostly confident in my query (I've had it critiqued many times and have revised it myself numerous times as well - I'm no stranger to queries).

I guess I'm just grasping at straws here. I mean, if it's not my writing, it must be something else, right? :)

Back to the drawing board.

quicklime
02-29-2012, 07:44 PM
1. who critiqued your queries? someone with a track record, and a recent one? Someone not terribly intimately close to you and likely to be perhaps influenced?

2. if you're no stranger, are you no stranger to successful queries? Not being snarky, but you say on one hand you have a single e-pub book and this thing that dies at the querying stage, then you say you're no stranger to queries, so I"m not sure where your track record comes from otherwise.

3. depending on subject matter, you may not be hitting the right folks....or may have a slim-odds pitch, and I don't know how many folks you've hit up so far--if you're here because of ten rejections out of ten, well, we'd all like more, but that might not say much. 100 out of 100 says a lot more....


so, how many queries did you send out? how many were flat rejected (any partial requests at all?) how do you come by this experience in queries if not through your own books?

that might help us try to offer a bit more as to why you're not doing as well as you'd like, if you're interested.....

Cathy C
02-29-2012, 07:50 PM
I actually had a prior credit in a different genre before I sold my first romance. Didn't help get the agent one bit. For their purposes, I might as well have been unpublished.

As for the query, I agree with quicklime. It might well be that your query is fine for one genre, but not for what you're writing now. Women's fiction has different needs than romance as far as what agents are looking for. You might want to consider putting the query in our Query Letter Hell (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=174)(which is a password protected forum, so no Google Spiders to find your plot. Password = vista)

We have a bunch of members in the Romance/Women's fiction room (I'm one of the Mods) that if you told you needed help, would be happy to take a look. :)

Toothpaste
02-29-2012, 07:53 PM
Just FYI you'll need 50 posts before you can post your query. But that flies by in no time :) .

Cyia
02-29-2012, 08:29 PM
Listen to the other posters here. You don't need any writing credits to get an agent or a publisher (I had zero and didn't even include a bio in my query.). All you need is a book they think they can sell. That's it.

Get your post count up to 50 and put your query up here for critique.

Go to Share Your Work right now and read the successful queries thread.

Go to Query Shark and read the list of queries that made it to a "yes" (QS is Fine Print agent Janet Reid, so she's someone who actually works in the industry.)

IceCreamEmpress
02-29-2012, 09:54 PM
If you have an opportunity to publish your romance with a credible epublisher that has a solid record of sales, there's no reason not to take it.

It probably won't make a difference in your quest to sell your woman's fiction project(s), but why not get the romance out there?

jcmoto
02-29-2012, 10:24 PM
Mostly I want to make sure it won't hurt me somehow. I'd hate to have an agent or a reader even write me off because I've published a romance novel.

I've had my queries critiqued on a couple of different sites and forums. I've probably written a hundred, if not more. I've queried previous novels with no success...which isn't hard to imagine now, looking back. The novels and the queries simply weren't ready yet. I'm fairly sure I've studied every query site known to man. I critique at a site too, which has helped me a ton, probably more than writing them over and over again.

I think maybe part of the problem is that my novel doesn't fit nicely into one particular genre or category. Sometimes I think calling it womens' fiction sells it short...maybe contemporary fiction is a better fit. I'm just not sure calling it contemporary fiction vs. womens' fiction will make a difference.

I never imagined that selling a novel would be so much harder than actually writing it!

Drachen Jager
02-29-2012, 10:28 PM
Basically, the way I see it is agents are looking seriously at between .5% and .1% of the material they receive.

90% - 95% of what they see is bad. Insta-reject. This is the pile you automatically avoid if you have publishing credits.

Of the remaining 5-10% they'll read the query carefully and perhaps look at a few pages.

Around 1% of the total they receive gets a real read-through.

These numbers are generalizations, but you get the idea. All you do by having publishing credits is propel yourself past the initial instant rejection. Maybe in about 10% of queries it's enough to get you to the next level if the agent was iffy on the query, but most of the time it's not a significant factor.

I'm another who acquired representation without previous publishing credits.

Drachen Jager
02-29-2012, 10:29 PM
Mostly I want to make sure it won't hurt me somehow. I'd hate to have an agent or a reader even write me off because I've published a romance novel.

I don't think it will turn an agent off. If an agent or editor thinks it will turn some of your audience away they'll suggest you publish under a pen-name. Easy as that.

Bubastes
02-29-2012, 10:30 PM
Mostly I want to make sure it won't hurt me somehow. I'd hate to have an agent or a reader even write me off because I've published a romance novel.


Why would they do that?

I can't speak for agents, but :points to sig line: I write both romance and women's fiction. The readers who've contacted me told me they bought and enjoyed both books. Romance and women's fiction are close cousins. From my observations, the readerships overlap quite a bit.

IceCreamEmpress
02-29-2012, 11:02 PM
So publish your romance under a pen name. I really don't mean to be rude, but it seems like you're inventing problems for yourself where none exist.

Jolly-Boo
02-29-2012, 11:10 PM
I've had my queries critiqued on a couple of different sites and forums. I've probably written a hundred, if not more. I've queried previous novels with no success...which isn't hard to imagine now, looking back. The novels and the queries simply weren't ready yet. I'm fairly sure I've studied every query site known to man. I critique at a site too, which has helped me a ton, probably more than writing them over and over again.

I think that for the sake of you moving forward, if you are so confident in the query, you should post it here. There's a guy who welcomes you as "Welcome to query letter hell, where squirrels ..."

He might make you cry, if it isn't good, though.



I think maybe part of the problem is that my novel doesn't fit nicely into one particular genre or category. Sometimes I think calling it womens' fiction sells it short...maybe contemporary fiction is a better fit. I'm just not sure calling it contemporary fiction vs. womens' fiction will make a difference.

I never imagined that selling a novel would be so much harder than actually writing it!

Romance novel? Perhaps.

Have you received a request for a partial? I don't see why they should look at the "Women's Fiction" and go, "nope."

Polenth
02-29-2012, 11:14 PM
I have credits, as I've sold some short stories. One rejection mentioned them in the sense of, "Nice credits. Don't like the story theme." (Paraphrased somewhat, but that was the gist of it.)

Credits really aren't the magic button for requests.

Cathy C
02-29-2012, 11:20 PM
I'd hate to have an agent or a reader even write me off because I've published a romance novel.


You need to be a bit careful here, because this borders on appearing denigrating to an entire genre of books--which is one of the bestselling. I assure you that an agent who saw you have a pubbed romance will take you seriously. It's a serious genre to those who write and read it.

Jamesaritchie
03-01-2012, 01:18 AM
I've had little to no luck with queries. Maybe they suck - I don't know. But I also have no credentials - I've never published anything.

I know being published previously is a big deal when trying to sell a new novel. I have the opportunity to publish another novel with an e-book publisher, but it's a romance novel, and I'm no longer writing romance, nor do I think I'll ever write it again in the future. I'm now writing women's fiction, so it's not that far off, but definitely not romance.

My question is this - is it better to have published something even though it's not in the same genre? I don't want to put myself out there as a romance writer when I'm not (and to be fair, the novel in question is borderline anyway, but the publisher publishes mostly romance). But obviously I need to beef up my resume.

Dilemmas, dilemmas...

If you had a romance novel published, and it sold only seven copies, this could turn off any agent or editor. But a good romance novel takes just as much talent and skill as a novel in any other genre, and one that sells at or above average should make any agent or editor happy.

On a side note, the best single piece of description I can remember reading anywhere was written by Marsha Canham.

Martin Persson
03-06-2012, 02:13 PM
And if you have written a 200-page master's thesis about, say, artificial intelligence (which is still archived and available online at your old university's homepage), do agents need to know/care about that?

waylander
03-06-2012, 02:51 PM
Only if your novel is SF and features AIs extensively

quicklime
03-06-2012, 05:26 PM
Only if your novel is SF and features AIs extensively


this (I have a PhD thesis on a serine/threonine kinase; reading the abstract as a sample of my "prose ability" would almost assure a rejection...the language is just very different) with the caveat even then you might not use it. I know Noah Lukeman mentioned in The First Five Pages having some prejudices against journalists who sub fiction, after a few months here I can say I have a certain prejudice towards scientists as well....namely, those who insist on their expertise are too often doing it to hand-wave away faults in their writing, plot, etc....

Now, you may be an excellent writer AND an excellent scientist, I'm not saying you aren't. I am just saying a credential is a credential, anything short of it can potentially carry some negative weight if it leaves a negative impression/red flag for the agent. So yeah, if it features AI extensively, and you have very unique insight, I'd add a single line, but if it doesn't (I, Robot featured AI but didn't take any unique knowledge or qualifications, for example) then I would leave it out.

Martin Persson
03-07-2012, 02:15 AM
I think I will still just mention the fact that I have a university education in my query letters. I think that is valid information.

eqb
03-07-2012, 04:54 AM
I think I will still just mention the fact that I have a university education in my query letters. I think that is valid information.

Not really. Not unless it's directly related to your book.

Ginger Writer
03-07-2012, 05:29 AM
I think I will still just mention the fact that I have a university education in my query letters. I think that is valid information.

I do mention as much, but I've been to undergrad specifically for Creative Writing.

quicklime
03-07-2012, 05:21 PM
Not really. Not unless it's directly related to your book.


this...it isn't.

lots of authors have no university education and do well. Lots of folks with degrees are still barely literate or unable to write anything that isn't purple to the point of ridiculous.

Writing matters. VERY special qualifications matter. Anything less looks like a desperate attempt to validate yourself.

Martin Persson
03-07-2012, 05:28 PM
So in a query letter I should not even mention what I do for a living?

quicklime
03-07-2012, 05:34 PM
So in a query letter I should not even mention what I do for a living?


a query is to pitch your book, not your lifestyle. So unless what you do for a living makes you one of a handful of people in the entire world who sould write your book, no.

Cyia
03-07-2012, 05:39 PM
I think I will still just mention the fact that I have a university education in my query letters. I think that is valid information.


I do mention as much, but I've been to undergrad specifically for Creative Writing.


A university level education in no way makes you more appealing as a writer. It might improve your grammar, or give you a bit of insight into character development, but it really can't make you stand out from the slush -- academic writing isn't designed for that; it's designed to make sure you follow "the rules". THOUSANDS take undergrad courses in Creative Writing, and still aren't publishable at the commercial level.


So in a query letter I should not even mention what I do for a living?


If you're writing a book set in Egypt about the discovery of secret, ancient artifacts, and happen to also be a working archaeologist or anthropologist, then yes.

If you're writing a book about autistic children and happen to be a teacher or child psychologist who specializes in the education or treatment of children on the spectrum, then yes.

If you're writing a book about a boy who discovers he's heir to the faery throne, and you happen to be a truck driver who knows the route from Milwaukee to Tuscon and back - blindfolded - then no.

Martin Persson
03-07-2012, 06:15 PM
I suppose it does not matter. If the agent wants to snoop about me all he needs to do is google my e-mail address and he will find my CV.

lauralam
03-07-2012, 07:41 PM
I put a link to my website below my contact details. I'm sure any agents who requested the full MS clicked on it and checked me out. I had one agent say he was impressed with my website.

If they're interested, they'll check it out to learn a bit more about you. But you gotta hook 'em in the query, first.

AGragon
03-08-2012, 02:38 AM
This thread came in handy :)

How I love you AW.

Drachen Jager
03-08-2012, 03:15 AM
I put a link to my website below my contact details. I'm sure any agents who requested the full MS clicked on it and checked me out. I had one agent say he was impressed with my website.

If they're interested, they'll check it out to learn a bit more about you. But you gotta hook 'em in the query, first.

This.

If you get the QueryTracker newsletter (or read the blog) they had a recent post about how most query letters that are successful now include blog or website address in the contact portion of the query. I do not know if it helped in my case, but my blog addy was a part of my query.

Garriga
03-08-2012, 03:50 AM
[QUOTE=jcmoto;7054421]Mostly I want to make sure it won't hurt me somehow. I'd hate to have an agent or a reader even write me off because I've published a romance novel.


I am sorry, please don't take this the wrong way.

I am a new writer, and if the publishing industry is that snobby, I want no part in it.

To me writing is more than a publication. It is my passion and my identity. The last thing I want is a pertinacious agent or publisher to throw my story in the garbage because I wrote a love story years ago.

Keep trying. If you are motivated you will publish your story :)

Garriga
03-08-2012, 10:12 AM
I suggest the Writer's Market

blacbird
03-08-2012, 10:39 AM
I suppose it does not matter. If the agent wants to snoop about me all he needs to do is google my e-mail address and he will find my CV.

Legitimate literary agents almost never do this, and I'm being optimistic in saying "almost". They're too damn busy dealing with their client list, and secondarily, with queries and submissions made in the normal (polite and proper) manner.

Really, you need to get a grasp on how this "process" really works, and stop fantasizing that you can somehow circumvent or change it.

caw

Old Hack
03-08-2012, 10:53 AM
I think I will still just mention the fact that I have a university education in my query letters. I think that is valid information.

Unless you have a writing-related MA or PhD, or one which is pertinent to the subject you're writing about, don't. It carries no value and will take up precious room in your query which you could more valuably use pitching your book.



Mostly I want to make sure it won't hurt me somehow. I'd hate to have an agent or a reader even write me off because I've published a romance novel.

I am sorry, please don't take this the wrong way.

I am a new writer, and if the publishing industry is that snobby, I want no part in it.

To me writing is more than a publication. It is my passion and my identity. The last thing I want is a pertinacious agent or publisher to throw my story in the garbage because I wrote a love story years ago.

Keep trying. If you are motivated you will publish your story :)

The publishing business isn't "that snobby". The person who wrote that comment was mistaken.

Terie
03-08-2012, 11:34 AM
So in a query letter I should not even mention what I do for a living?

As others have said upstream, unless what you do for a living is directly relevant to your book, don't mention it. Not only does it waste precious words, it also is a sign of being an amateur.

I mention what I do for a living (technical writer) because, while being a tech writer doesn't guarantee I can tell a story, it does mean that I am a professional writer who is used to dealing with things like being edited, working with deadlines, and other things along those lines relevant to the publishing process.

If you are, say, a lean agile software project manager or a hospital administrator, and your book is an epic fantasy or a steamy romance, your job has nothing to do with either your book or publishing in general and doesn't need to be mentioned in your query.

Marian Perera
03-08-2012, 03:06 PM
So in a query letter I should not even mention what I do for a living?

I just revamped my resume so I could apply for medical laboratory technologist positions. The resume doesn't mention that I write fantasies.

Likewise, a query letter isn't going to mention that I'm a medical laboratory technologist.