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05.07.2011 19:04    Comments: 0    Categories: Writing Query Letter      Tags: query letter  crawford kilian  

The query can be a quick way to tell whether your novel might be of interest to a particular publisher--without having to wait until some editor finds your manuscript deep within her slush pile. The query should give the editor an idea of your story (and a sense of the way you're handling it) that's clear enough to help her decide if it's worth considering. If the idea sounds good, you know the complete manuscript (or sample chapters) will enjoy a prompt and careful reading. If the idea doesn't sound right for her, she may tell you why, and perhaps suggest either a new approach or another publisher.

Some queries are very short, and others are long indeed--novel outlines masquerading as letters. Consider the following suggestions as guidelines, not ironclad laws:

  1. Supply a short, pungent description of what the book is about: a desperate attempt to escape a narcotics bust, an unexpected journey that leads to romance and danger in 1930s China, an aging gunfighter's attempt to prove himself again in the Mexican Revolution.
  2. If not obvious from your plot outline, identify the audience your book is aimed at: hardcore space-opera fans, teenage girls, Regency-romance readers.
  3. Be able to tell the editor what makes this novel different from others in the genre: a twist in the plot, a new angle on the hero, an unusual setting.
  4. Your credentials may be helpful, if only as a dedicated and knowledgeable reader in the genre, or as an observant resident of the city you've set your novel in. These are not trivial qualifications: If you don't know and love the genre you're writing in, it will show. And if you don't know the history and folklore of your setting, the story will lack depth.
  5. Display in your query some of the excitement and energy you want to bring to your story--show how and why this story matters to you, and it'll matter to your editor.

 

Writing A Query Letter About Your Novel | Query Letter: The Letter Itself


  1. Developing Efficient Work Habits
  2. Elements Of A Successful Story
    • In the opening...
    • In the body of the story...
    • In the conclusion...
    • Throughout the story...
  3. Style: Checklist For Fiction Writers
  4. Manuscript Format
  5. Storyboarding
  6. Ten Points on Plotting
  7. The Story Synopsis
  8. Understanding Genre: Notes on the Thriller
  9. Symbolism and all that
    • The Natural Cycle
    • The Natural Versus the Human World
    • The Hero's Quest: Mysterious or unusual birth
    • Symbolic Images
    • Symbolic Characters
  10. Narrative Voice
  11. Constructing a Scene
  12. Show And Tell: Which Is Better?
  13. Character In Fiction
    • The Character Resume
  14. “Let's Talk About Dialogue,” He Pontificated
    • Some Dialogue Conventions to Consider:
  15. Writing A Query Letter About Your Novel
    • The Letter Itself
  16. Researching Publishers and Agents
  17. Reading a Contract
    • Delivery Of Satisfactory Copy
    • Permission for Copyrighted Material
    • Grant Of Rights
    • Proofreading and Author's Corrections
    • Advances and Royalties
    • Author's Warranties and Indemnities
    • Copies to Author
    • Option Clause
    • Going Out of Print
    • A Word of Advice

 

About the Author

 

Crawford Kilian was born in New York City in 1941. He moved to Canada in 1967 and now resides in Vancouver B.C. Crawford has had twelve science fiction and fantasy novels published. He has been nominated for an Aurora Award 3 times for his novels Eyas, Lifter and Rogue Emperor- A Novel of the Chronoplane Wars. His latest contribution to SF is a non-fiction book for would-be SF writers called Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy. Crawford has two more novels in the works.

To learn more about him, visit his blog at: http://crofsblogs.typepad.com/fiction/

 
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