Rule #2: Seriously? Tell them about your book. Don't give your own thoughts about how awesome it is, let them make up their OWN mind about that. Include pesky little details, like, uh, the major conflict? Word length? Genre? Just those minor details *grin*
Stupid Krista Example:
The number of couples meeting online is growing each day, yet there are very few books that give tribute to their story. My book proposal is a fictional depiction of one such story. It is a story about Jack and Jenny, two unlikely people who meet in a mostly unlikely way. It could only be a God thing. They face their fears and overcome the dangers of the Internet, and find a love blessed by God that will last a lifetime, with a few twists and turns along the way of course!
I also believe it is important to outline some guidelines to internet dating, as well as give tips to deal with the issue of children and the internet. There are only a few non-fiction books addressing these issues, and virtually (pun intended) no fictional books that incorporate these principles. My proposal includes an already developed book, as well as a proposal for a sequel as well.
I am excited about the prospect of working together on this project! Jack and Jenny have fast become part of our family, and would love to share their story with others as well! A book proposal as well as manuscript for the first book is available upon request
Okay, so what did I do wrong?
First, I basically summarized the theme and gave them no clue as to the true conflict. By reading this, you really have no idea what my book is except that it's about two people who meet on the Internet. BIG DEAL! Who cares? You want to hook them and make them care about your book. What is exciting?
Second, for a novel, not really appropriate to go into the reason *why* your book would be so great in the market place. In reality, fiction is for entertainment and pleasure. As a Christian author, YES, I really hope and pray that my words and the theme impact someone, but in the end, fiction is entertainment, and we are providing a wholesome Godly form of it. No one will be impacted if you don't have a killer story, as they'll throw the book into the trash on page two if you don't.
Third, I gave no word length (a must in a query), no target audience (really more for a proposal but not a bad idea in a query letter), no genre (so it is contemp. romance and any level headed person would get that from what I wrote, but you still need to spell it out)
Fourth, Seriously? It was just unprofessionally written in my opinion. Pun intended? Really? What was I thinking!?
Slightly better Krista example:
My novel is about Jenny, an introverted accountant, who meets Jack, a single dad, in an Internet chat room. After she falls in 'like' with him, she senses she's being followed and becomes convinced he's an Internet stalker. Her best friend convinces her to take a road trip--for which they coin the phrase "Mission Jack"--to find out his true identity. They are on the brink of their discovery when they are arrested for stalking him.
***goes on to tell rest of story which I won't tell you now!! You'll have to read the book when some smart publisher publishes it!***
This book, titled LOL: Mission Jack, is dear to my heart as I met my own husband in an Internet chat room. The story around our meeting is much different than Jack and Jenny's; however, I felt it would be a fun way to start a romance and unique from most other storylines currently out on the Christian market.
I am a current member of the American Christian Fiction Writers association, as well as an active member of the Middle Tennessee Christian Writers. I have submitted portions of my books for professional editing and feedback, and am involved with a critique group who has vetted the majority of my first novel.
The completed novel is approximately 86,000 words. I appreciate your time and look forward to the opportunity to work with you.
Okay, so I left out a few parts that are agent specific or give away more of the story, but wanted to point out a few things:
First, I did still mention, very briefly, my qualifications for writing this book. I know tons about dating a guy online, as I did... and married him! I DO think this is important, although feel free to correct me if you don't. I just don't think I should droan on and on about it for three paragraphs at the beginning of the query.
Second, I listed my memberships, because at the moment, those are my qualifications. I also list that I've actively edited my novel so they don't think it is rough draft by someone unpublished author who thinks they can spin a great story and will balk at any revisions.
Third, I list the word length, and if you remember in yesterday's post, I listed the genre.
Is it better? Definitely. Is it the best? Probably not. I always believe there is room for improvement (and welcome any feedback, seriously!)
So..... Now that I've pretty much just shared my idiotic very first query letter with the world, I'd like to hear some of YOUR stories. What's something you did in your quest to be a writer that now, looking back, you just shake your head and wonder what you were thinking? You don't have to do full disclosures and give us examples, but come on! We can learn from each other's mistakes:-)