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View Full Version : Should a query refer to current news?



Elvin-Bala
07-10-2013, 07:33 AM
So my initial query letter draft tries to build a case for publishing my MS by connecting its relevancy to some of the major themes to current events, namely, the NSA/Snowden internet monitoring scandal. But does this build my case? Because realistically even if an agent picks my work and gets it published, it won't be for a considerable amount of time that the book would make it to market. Will that lag time hurt the case I'm trying to make? For that matter, about how much time does it take for a represented book make it to market?

frankiebrown
07-10-2013, 07:53 AM
It can take a seriously long time to publish a book, especially from the query stage.

Say it takes you about a month to draft a really bangin' query letter. You query for 1-2 months to find Agent Awesome. And then you might (read: probably will) have some edits to go through with them. Give that a couple weeks. Then you go to submissions with your agent. Say that takes a couple weeks. (At the least. I've heard stories of people being on submission with their agents significantly longer.) If you find a publisher who wants to buy your book after a couple of weeks, then you're at 4 months from the initial query stage (and also lucky). After you sign their contract, the publisher will have several stages of edits for you to go through. I think the general time frame is about 1-1.5 years after signing the contract to publication.

Of course there isn't a rule, and every writer's experience is going to be a little different. Publishers and agents have different processes. But publishing as a business is notoriously slow.

All this is to say that if you want to include a pop/poli reference to hook the agent, I think that might be okay. But I would limit it to about a sentence. I have heard buzz on agents wanting a Snowden-ish MS, so you're probably onto something.

Also it's always a good idea to get to 50 posts and post your query letter in QLH. The squirrels there are wise.

quicklime
07-10-2013, 05:25 PM
I don't think it would help because of the time issue.

Worse, I see that a lot in QLH, and it sort of makes me all puppy-kicky and stabby. I don't know if agents are as sunshiney as me, but if they are, and they see far more queries than I do, i'm guessing they like the sales angle even less......

Elvin-Bala
07-10-2013, 06:16 PM
Thanks, frankiebrown, that's good to know. Is QLH the same thing as SYW?

Elvin-Bala
07-10-2013, 06:18 PM
and quicklime...I never thought about it being very salesy, I was going more for relevancy, at least for publishers to consider it worthy to publish. But I can see your point...I'll have to take another read-through the query to see if it comes off that way...

still working on that 50 post minimum...

Donna Pudick
07-10-2013, 06:26 PM
It depends on the theme of your story. If it's an ongoing issue, such as the plethora of regional disasters that are plaguing the U. S. or some other stories that don't seem to be going away, such as child abduction, missing women, etc., it should garner interest.

Just as a note, Rich Johnson's Ultimate Survival Manual was turned down by all major publishers, even his McGraw-Hill publisher on survival, stating that "we already have to many survival books." He finally found a publisher through his magazine, Outdoor Life. It's selling like crazy.

Old Hack
07-10-2013, 09:29 PM
Elvin-Bala, you need 50 posts to start a thread of your own in QLH or SYW, but you don't need 50 posts to contribute a critique of someone else's work--and by helping others with their works, you're far more likely to get a strong response when you eventually get your own work up there.

quicklime
07-10-2013, 10:26 PM
and quicklime...I never thought about it being very salesy, I was going more for relevancy, at least for publishers to consider it worthy to publish. But I can see your point...I'll have to take another read-through the query to see if it comes off that way...

still working on that 50 post minimum...


anything written well and engaging is publish-worthy. anything not won't be saved by being "topical." But that sales angle can make the pitcher look sort of desperate, especially if you really beat it home.

qlh is a sub-forum in SYW, Query Letter Hell.