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seun
07-08-2013, 07:04 PM
I just came across this:

http://foliolit.com/submissions/basic-information-on-query-letters/

Comparing it to my own queries, I'm wondering if I'm going for the wrong angle. Most of my queries are more of an interesting (hopefully) summary of the book, then a brief bit about my other bits and where I can be found online. The example halfway down the page strikes me as as bit informal - or am I just being English and repressed?

Jamiekswriter
07-08-2013, 07:27 PM
I wouldn't send that query letter to anyone but Folio. The examples almost read what not to do if you compare them to QueryShark.

Also I think the first two paragraphs of their sample letter are unnecessary, and I think comparing your work to another might be a slippery slope. "My novel is like Harry Potter but with Accountants instead of Wizards"

But if Folio wants it that way, I'd write a query just for them based on that sample.

seun
07-08-2013, 07:34 PM
If it's mentioned in guidelines, I try to compare my stuff to other writers. Sort of I think people who enjoy books by *** would like my book, but I don't think I've compared my stuff to a specific title.

A couple of years ago, I read a similar example on an agency's site which suggested detailing the number of drafts the book had been through and who had read it in terms of critique.

frankiebrown
07-08-2013, 08:18 PM
I wouldn't send that query letter to anyone but Folio. The examples almost read what not to do if you compare them to QueryShark.

Also I think the first two paragraphs of their sample letter are unnecessary, and I think comparing your work to another might be a slippery slope. "My novel is like Harry Potter but with Accountants instead of Wizards"

But if Folio wants it that way, I'd write a query just for them based on that sample.

Seconding this. Except for the part about comp titles.

Debbie V
07-09-2013, 07:46 PM
I have seen the advice to include references to other works before. It can be done in a way that is not self aggrandizing. In fact, Steven Fraser did a five minute workshop on doing this at a presentation he gave. I've even seen them used in Publisher's Weekly's Children's Bookshelf as part of the blurbs reporting deals. It will say something like, "Pitched as Snow White meets Game of Thrones."

mayqueen
07-09-2013, 08:12 PM
I think the key for comparison is to avoid doing something like, "My book is the next Harry Potter!" or "My book is the next A Song of Ice and Fire!" Because, c'mon, really?

I use comparisons. I mention a specific book if I can ("elements of supernatural horror as in X...") or specific authors ("will appeal to readers of X").

frankiebrown
07-09-2013, 11:34 PM
I think the key for comparison is to avoid doing something like, "My book is the next Harry Potter!" or "My book is the next A Song of Ice and Fire!" Because, c'mon, really?

I use comparisons. I mention a specific book if I can ("elements of supernatural horror as in X...") or specific authors ("will appeal to readers of X").

Yeah, this. Listing well-written but perhaps not well-known books as comp titles could even help show that you're familiar with your genre.

Tromboli
07-09-2013, 11:42 PM
What I find most interesting about the example is that it tells next to nothing about the book.

As for comp titles, some agents like them some don't. It gives the agent an idea about how to market the book, where it fits etc. As others said you just shouldnt use a wildly popular title. Stick to being realistic.

Tromboli
07-09-2013, 11:44 PM
(Also, notice the sly exclusive comment at the bottom of the sample. Like they're trying to make that seem standard)

Aggy B.
07-10-2013, 12:19 AM
I wouldn't send that query letter to anyone but Folio. The examples almost read what not to do if you compare them to QueryShark.

Also I think the first two paragraphs of their sample letter are unnecessary, and I think comparing your work to another might be a slippery slope. "My novel is like Harry Potter but with Accountants instead of Wizards"

But if Folio wants it that way, I'd write a query just for them based on that sample.

Actually, I think someone sent in a "list format" query to QueryShark a number of years ago and she said it was just fine. The only thing she didn't like to see was any sort of opening statement that put down other agents. (i.e. Your website is the most professional I've come across... etc)

There's an AW author who credits this type of query with most of her success in selling books.

And comparing your book to an already successful one in your genre gives the agent an idea of where you see yourself in the marketplace and also indicates you know your genre well enough to make a comparison.

Jumpy2
07-10-2013, 01:10 AM
I hate this sort of thing. We all know what the rules are when it comes to queries. And then I'll read the query series at Writer's Digest or something and so many queries seem to break all the rules (over long, written in first person) and land an agent anyway.

Donna Pudick
07-10-2013, 06:20 PM
A good query letter simply tells the agent or publisher what the book is about--period. You can start it with a relevant question, i.e., Can spies be laid off? or Who is the world's longest living quadriplegic? or end it with a question, i.e., Will the wiley cave dwellers find a way to conquer the earth, or will their hopes and dreams be crushed? Corney, but you get the point. Or make a bold statement, i.e., Lee's journey will take you to the ends of the earth and back, before he discovers the real truth about himself.

You can add stuff about yourself at the end in a separate paragraph.

GinJones
07-10-2013, 06:35 PM
I wonder if that page is simply outdated. Someone had a sample that worked for snail-mail queries ten years ago, and is general enough to cover both fiction and non-fiction. It got handed to some techie person to put on the website, and it's lingered there, as things change.

Purely speculation on my part, but it struck me that the format (with the sender's info at top instead of the bottom) is at odds with electronic submissions, but there's a line saying they only accept electronic submission, which could have been added later, without changing the format of the sample letter.

Old Hack
07-10-2013, 09:27 PM
A good query letter simply tells the agent or publisher what the book is about--period. You can start it with a relevant question, i.e., Can spies be laid off? or Who is the world's longest living quadriplegic? or end it with a question, i.e., Will the wiley cave dwellers find a way to conquer the earth, or will their hopes and dreams be crushed? Corney, but you get the point. Or make a bold statement, i.e., Lee's journey will take you to the ends of the earth and back, before he discovers the real truth about himself.

You can add stuff about yourself at the end in a separate paragraph.

Donna, I've seen several agents advise against using rhetorical questions like that in a query, and even more advising against including constructions like your "Lee's journey" one: I realise a writer would be expected to take more time to word their query than you probably spent on this comment, but that sort of thing can often come across as cliched.

I'm not trying to point fingers at you; I just find it very interesting how much agents differ in their preferences, which just shows that the important thing is to write a really good book with a good story, and an equally enticing query letter to sell it with.

Donna Pudick
07-11-2013, 08:38 PM
I've never had many problems querying editors, and pitch just the essentials to them, i.e., what is the book about, period. They usually ask to see the ms. Once I get a manuscript into the hands of an editor, I tend to stick with that query for all of them. The only exception is when an author submits different versions of the same story to me, i.e., a Christian version versus a lay version. They each call for different queries. But as an agent, I like getting the kinds of queries that I demoed above.

Cactus Land
07-17-2013, 05:54 PM
I think mentioning other books that would resonate with the publisher as inspirations is such a bad idea.....