Monday, June 26, 2006

Gimmicky Query Letters

STATUS: What a great weekend. I read a full manuscript starting on Friday night. Finished Saturday morning. Called the author. Have a new client. Time frame from when sample pages were received to requesting and reading the full to offering representation: 4 weeks.

What song is playing on the iPod right now? THE WEAKNESS IN ME by Joan Armatrading

I belong to a writers’ discussion board called Backspace and since I’m not the only agent there, the administrator of the site decided to do a quick opinion poll. She asked us to weigh in on what we thought of query letters with a gimmick (and what I mean by gimmick is that the query letter had a strange format that mirrored the story line in some fashion—like the query was in the form of a legal brief for a legal thriller etc.)

I definitely want to give points to the writer for creativity. And I think the purpose was to make the query letter stand out from the hundreds received.

But basically, all of us pretty much agreed that the gimmicky format just distracted us from concentrating on the story summary itself (and might accidentally get mistaken for spam—at least in this case).

I was flexible if I thought the gimmick worked (I didn’t for this case) but all the other agents were adamant. They hated it and would have sent an instant NO.

So, my advice to you? No gimmicks in your query letters.

If you want to grab interest, be sure to incorporate the tone of your manuscript into the query letter blurb (as in if chick lit, use the chick lit tone, if thriller, your summary blurb had better be suspenseful, if literary, the writing should be gorgeous in your query as well).

Ultimately, we just want to focus on your story in the query letter. Hope that helps.