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tko
09-11-2013, 07:32 PM
Would a query written in 1st be an automatic reject once the agent found the novel was written in 3rd?

I've tried to write a novel using close, edgy 3rd POV. The only way I've been able to bring the voice to the query is to use 1st.

Two things to consider. I've seen at least 5 agent highlighted queries that were in 1st, so although I'm aware they're considered gimmicky, they can work. And, an agent wouldn't reject a query in 3rd and a novel in 1st.

Still, I'm afraid that a query in 1st and the novel in 3rd would be a disappointment. I've tried writing the query in 1st, then translating to 3rd, but it loses impact.

quicklime
09-11-2013, 08:04 PM
tk,

I've seen a few queries in first. I've seen at least as much snickering (by agents) about them, and tend to agree...how serious can you take a letter that starts out "Last night, I was on the run from a man I only recall from dreams" or "My name is David Dragonsbayne, and I am a Reaper...."

So, they can work if you do them well.....same rule as always. And you've been around long enough to remember the flip side of that rule.... "9 out of 10 times, when you think you did it THAT well......you just plain didn't."

You can take the risk, and if you did it well, i can't see any reason the tense flip would cause a reject, but I really suspect the first-person query might. That better be a hit out of the park, because anything less looks gimmicky. Can you do that? If you can, ship it out. Then again, if you can do that, are you really sure you can't write with as much impact in third?

bottom line is either way carries some risk i suppose, but i really don't think a first-to-third flip would hurt the manuscript, you're just pushing your rock up a bigger hill if you write that query in first.

Little Ming
09-11-2013, 09:42 PM
If you read the Ask Pam thread, she says explicitly do not query as your character... which I think means don't query in 1st POV.

I've also seen some successful queries written in 1st POV, though I think all of them are several years old. It could be one of those things there was very fashionable for a while (like loglines and rhetorical questions) but after everyone started doing it, and doing it badly, agents don't want to see it anymore.

Anyways, I agree with quick, there's really only one "rule" in querying: make the agent want more. Question is, do you?

Siri Kirpal
09-12-2013, 02:05 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Be aware that 1st person is used for memoir queries. If you're sending a 1st person query to an agent who also reps memoirs, you're asking for him/her to be confused.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

J.Reid
09-12-2013, 06:35 AM
You're always going to query in 1st POV because you're going to say "I wrote this book" (although of course, NOT that)

You're NEVER going to query in the voice of your character. It's a bad bad thing. Do not do bad bad things in your query.

Your word choice and the rhythm of your sentences convey voice too.

tko
09-12-2013, 09:56 PM
I appreciate everyone's advice. But I've seen 5 or so recent queries where the agent praised a query as being a home run, and it was in first POV. The tides might be changing. Or not.

At any rate, 2 years ago I wrote a poor query and got some interest. I set that novel aside, wrote another novel, came back, improved my 1st query, got it approved and polished in query letter hell, sent it out, and didn't get a single nibble. Less interest than with my original sucky query--and it was a decent, straight forward query.

My opinion is that the market is tightening every year, and you've got to take some chances. So, I'd be willing to try a 1st person query a couple of times just to see what happens, while also sending out a conventional query.

Kayley
09-13-2013, 08:51 AM
Be aware of the preferences of each agent to whom you are sending a query letter. If you've found agents who like queries written in a character's voice, maybe they'll be receptive to yours being done that way. But you shouldn't ever query Janet or Pam with something like that, since they have clearly stated that they dislike the technique.

Also, my personal opinion is that querying a book written in 3rd person using 1st person* is even worse than querying a 1st person novel using 1st person. Like you suspect, it would be incredibly jarring for a reader. If you write a close, edgy 3rd in the book, why can't the same style be used in the query letter? It seems like that would be the best representation of your story, and would also be better-received by agents.

*meaning 1st person as your character

tko
09-13-2013, 08:10 PM
Agree completely!


But you shouldn't ever query Janet or Pam with something like that, since they have clearly stated that they dislike the technique.

Amen. I'm Irish and stubborn, but not stupid! When agents speak, you listen.

If you write a close, edgy 3rd in the book, why can't the same style be used in the query letter? It seems like that would be the best representation of your story, and would also be better-received by agents.

Pretty much my final conclusion. I'm going to try to translate the first to 3rd and see what happens. Right after I decide whether I've written a thriller, literary or suspense novel, which seems to be the current topic of interest on my query.

Quickbread
09-22-2013, 08:30 PM
First and foremost, the query is a business letter, albeit a creative one. It not only tells the agent about your idea but also about you as a writer. It's important to look professional, and the few 1st POV queries I've read have seemed gimmicky and amateurish, even from strong writers. I think it would take a really exceptional query to work in 1st. And, of course, yours might.

How many agents did you query with no nibbles? Maybe you didn't query enough of them? Or maybe they were the wrong agents? Or something was not quite working with the story premise or the way it was synopsized? Or the sample pages weren't strong enough? I'm just saying, keep in mind all the variables that can go into not getting a response.

tko
09-23-2013, 02:49 AM
I'm thinking in these times it takes a really exceptional query to get attention in the adult thriller or suspense genre. Maybe the market is saturated.

I previously queried 40 agents (ones specifically selected because they required no sample pages) with a query for an adult thriller that had been through the mill at query letter hell here. Not a single response. All indicated they were looking for my genre on their web page. Of course, agents can say this and not fully mean it--or maybe they're looking to break into the genre, and want something very specific.

It could also be because a large part of my novel(s) are set in Asia. Maybe there is a marketing issue? Anyhow, I'm not dead set on 1st person, just looking around for ideas.


First and foremost, the query is a business letter, albeit a creative one. It not only tells the agent about your idea but also about you as a writer. It's important to look professional, and the few 1st POV queries I've read have seemed gimmicky and amateurish, even from strong writers. I think it would take a really exceptional query to work in 1st. And, of course, yours might.

How many agents did you query with no nibbles? Maybe you didn't query enough of them? Or maybe they were the wrong agents? Or something was not quite working with the story premise or the way it was synopsized? Or the sample pages weren't strong enough? I'm just saying, keep in mind all the variables that can go into not getting a response.

Quickbread
09-23-2013, 05:36 AM
Just out of curiosity, how come you selected agents who didn't want sample pages?

Unless the agent's guidelines state otherwise, it's pretty typical to paste (or attach for snail mail) the opening five pages of your manuscript after your query. It's always to your advantage to include pages. The agent is more eager to read the writing itself than the query about it. And however saturated the market is, the only sure winner is a totally awesome manuscript. If there's a strong writing sample, agents may overlook a lackluster query as long as it does the job.