Archive for July, 2009

How to Write a Query Letter for a Novel Manuscript

Writing a novel is extremely difficult, but it’s also a very rewarding and emotional process.  Congratulations to you for finishing!  Now that you’re done, and the manuscript has been edited and polished, you’re probably considering approaching literary agents.  This is another extremely difficult process…and it typically starts with a query letter.

Most agencies do not accept unsolicited materials.  The query letter allows you to introduce yourself to the agent, pitch the idea of your novel and make that agent want to read more.  The hard part is fitting all of this into one page and making it interesting and informative.  There are a few different parts of a query letter that are important.

Introduction

Remember that literary agents receive tons of query letters each day.  It’s important to make your own stand out from the crowd.  You have to hook the agent with the first few sentences of the query letter the same way you have to hook the readers with the first few paragraphs of your novel.  Tell the agent why you’re writing, why you feel the novel is a good fit for their agency, and what the word count is.  It might look something like this…

Dear Ms. Agent, (Remember to include the agent’s actual name.  Don’t leave the introduction generic – show that you’ve researched and are willing to take the time to address each individual agent.)

My name is Vulnerable Writer and I’m writing today to tell you about my completed manuscript, ‘Great American Novel.’  It’s a fiction/drama and weighs in at 90,000 words.

Now, you’ve managed to introduce yourself and your novel in just a few sentences, which is great.  Use the least amount of words possible to get an idea across, because agents are busy and you want them to continue reading rather than tossing the query letter into the trash!

Summary of the Novel

Next, you want to include a short summary of the novel that will pique the agent’s interest and get him or her excited about reading the full manuscript.  This is very important if the agent’s going to ask for sample chapters or the whole manuscript.  Think about the summary for a while, write and rewrite it until it’s perfect, and then have a few friends read it.  It should be no more than a paragraph or two, and include the most important elements of the story.  It might look something like this…

Megan is an ordinary girl who wakes up one day to find that her whole life has been one big lie…literally.  She discovered it when she found the papers in her mother’s drawer.  Her identity is false.  To make matter’s worse, the guy she’s been in love with for the past two years lets her know in no uncertain terms – and in public – that he doesn’t share her affection. Megan’s brother, who is not really her brother, is the only one she can count on.  Together, they embark on a journey to discover who Megan really is…and the truth shocks her to the very core.

Once you have the summary polished, you’re ready to move on to the next section.

Short Bio

In this part of the query letter, you’ll want to include some details about yourself.  You don’t want to make this part boring, so include only information that the agent should know.  For instance, if you’ve been published in the past or if you’re a new writer, the information should be in the query.  Any relevant education, credentials or groups that you’re a member of might also be great information to include.

Example:

This is my first fiction novel and I’m excited to share it with you.  I’ve researched your agency and feel that you’re the agent who can find my book a home.  I am a member of the Fiction Writer’s Group and possess a degree in journalism from University.

With this part out of the way, you can include any research, statistics, facts or information that you’ve gathered about your novel’s genre.  You might include what books are currently on the market that are similar to your book, but also how your book is different and stands out. Your agent is going to want to know where the book belongs in the store, and what the chances of success with the book are, so include what you know.

Example:

I feel that my book is similar to the wildly popular ‘Amazing Book,’ in regards to potential fan base and the human struggles within the book.  However, ‘Great American Novel’ is also different in that the characters are more defined and individualized.  In a survey where I asked 200 readers of similar genres to look at a summary of the book online and tell me whether they would be willing to purchase the book, 95% said they would be willing to pay the price to read the book.

Closing

The hard part of the query letter is over and now it’s important to close it properly.  Simply thank the agent for taking the time to read the query and let them know that you hope to hear from them soon.  It’s that easy.

Example:

I want to thank you for taking the time to read this query and I would love to send you some sample chapters or the full manuscript if you’re interested.  I hope to hear from you soon and am excited at the possibilities of working with you to bring ‘Great American Novel’ to other readers.

Sincerely,

Vulnerable Writer

Don’t forget to include all of your contact details so that the agent can get in touch with you if he or she wants to request sample chapters or the full manuscript.  If you’re sending the query through e-mail, you need to paste the query into the body of the e-mail.  Most agents will not open attachments unless they specifically request them.

Other Tips for Writing a Query Letter

  • You shouldn’t be afraid to let your personality shine through in the query letter.  If your book is a comedy and you’re naturally a humorous person, a little light humor couldn’t hurt.  However, it’s important to remember that the query letter should be professional and you shouldn’t speak in the letter as if you’re familiar with the agent.
  • Once you’ve sent the query letter, there is nothing to do but wait…or craft query letters for other agents.  Do not call or e-mail the agent asking about the query letter.  You can be sure that real literary agents will review all query letters and if they’re interested, they will get back to you.
  • Proofread the query letter before sending it.  The last thing you want is for an agent to notice misspelled words or grammatical errors in the query letter…they will be dreading the book and the mistakes that must be present in it.  If needed, have a friend read it or hire professionals to proofread it for you.

Getting Rejected

It’s inevitable.  Most wildly famous and successful writers have received at least one rejection.  So, what do you do when you get rejected?  Politely thank the agent for their time and send out two more query letters.  Eventually, if you’re persistent and your work is good enough, you’ll make it!  Good luck.

Photo Courtesy of RichardDooling.com.

Posted by Samantha

Eco-Friendly Golf Course, Designer and Vacations

This summer, it’s not too late to enjoy an eco-friendly getaway or hit the greens at an eco-certified golf course. The latest earth-friendly blog posts from Priceless Writers touch upon vacation stays in a room paying homage to a popular frozen indulgence, meeting a master in green decorating, and tee time with musician Justin Timberlake.

If you require any content that spreads the word on respecting the environment or highlights your eco-friendly efforts, contact Priceless Writers – we offer a 10% discount for companies who actively support or supply green products or services.

Green Your Game: Timberlake’s Eco-Certified Golf Course Ready for Tee Time

By Danielle Bullard

The Green Queen: Eco-Designer Kelly LaPlante

By Samantha Cummings

8 Eco-Friendly Summer Vacation Getaways

By Yona Williams

Posted by The Priceless Team

Business Networking in Your Off-Time

Wonder how the entrepreneurs and business-savvy individuals in your niche are getting ahead of the game? One of the reasons could be that they are constantly wearing their thinking cap and taking full advantage of their time when away from the computer, outside of the office, and even on vacations. They use their off-time wisely – incorporating their business aspirations into all aspects of their life. This doesn’t mean you have to become a complete workaholic, ignore your family, and sleep with your business cards – simply think outside the box and get creative with the ways you market your business.

A couple of examples include:

The gym. Whether you’re taking an aerobics class or pumping iron, you’ll always bump into an interesting cast of characters at the gym. Some people can’t help but to strike up a conversation and dive into your personal life. Usually, the topic of ‘where you work’ comes up. This presents the perfect opportunity to network with potential clients, customers, or professionals in your same field. You never know when someone will need a good mechanic, lawyer, or chiropractor. Don’t forget to carry business cards in your gym bag.

A simple airport shuttle ride can turn into a time to network. I can’t tell you how many times I wish I had a business card handy when chatting it up with complete strangers while on vacation. Take advantage of a long airplane ride by listening to the traveler beside you. Some people have stumbled upon potential partnerships and new ideas just by lending an ear and engaging in genuine conversation.

Even when on vacation, you can still keep your business in mind.

Actively seek out potential business by becoming involved. Stop ignoring PTA notices. Lend a helping hand to the local baseball team. Support the Girl Scouts. Certain niches can benefit from community outreach. Try providing customized T-shirts for a local Little League for free to gain interest in your silk-screening business. Supply chatty parents with something to talk about with cookies from your bakery. Always keep business cards on hand. Also, pass out coupons to drum up further interest.

Image Credits: yoshiaka (bottom)

Posted by Yona

Wedding Invitations, Robosteel, and Sustainable Burials

Calling all Transformers fans...this massive creation is 8 feet tall.

Calling all Transformers fans...this creation is 8 feet tall.

If you’re looking to purchase an extremely unique piece of recycled art or wish to send out eco-friendly wedding invitations to announce your special day, consider the following eco-blog posts that Danielle, Samantha, and Yona would like to share with you this week.

Looking for Eco-Friendly Wedding Invitations?

by Yona Williams

RoboSteel: Transforming Scrap Metal into Amazing Works of Art

by Samantha Cummings

Handcrafted, Biodegradable Coffins Bring Sustainability to Burials

by Danielle Bullard

Posted by The Priceless Team

Greening Your Grill, Office Space, and Parties

At Priceless Writers, we continuously work with clients who wish to make a positive impact in the world with green business practices and spreading the word regarding eco-friendly living. We spend a great deal of time keeping our noses to the ground – sniffing out the latest products, services, and information.

Each week, we will share with you some of the eco-blog work we’ve done. It is our hope that you might just start a composting pile in your backyard, support an artist that uses recycled materials, or simply help spread the word regarding earth friendly practices. Last week, Priceless Writers penned the following eco-blog posts:

Greening Your Grill: 5 Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Charcoal and Gas

By Danielle Bullard

Eco-Friendly Party Supplies

By Samantha Cummings

Greening Your Office Space

By Yona Williams

Posted by The Priceless Team

Using the World Wide Web to Benefit Your Business

It's important to think global!

What can the Internet do for you? As an entrepreneur, you are constantly thinking of new and inventive ways to push your product or sell your services. Somewhere between print ads, conference calls, and attending seminars, you have either created a website or thought about establishing an online presence. With all of the millions of websites floating about the World Wide Web, how will you take advantage of the Internet and use it to best benefit your business?


Reach New Clients and Markets

The World Wide Web is an ever-growing hand that stretches across the world to reach potential clients, consumers, and markets. With the help of the Web, you can locate the customers most interested in listening to what you have to say. Use the Internet to go beyond the typical parameters of location. Think outside the box. Think national. Pursue global prospects.

Feed Your Creativity

The software and online capabilities of today are absolutely amazing. Whether its providing website visitors with a helpful video demonstrating the benefits of your product or supplying live customer service, the Internet allows you to tap into the never-ending possibilities of your creativity.

Turn the “Interested” Into Customers

From a T-shirt shop in the mall to a brick and mortar business on the boulevard, the Internet can turn the casual observer of your business into a new customer. After a potential consumer has scanned your ad in the newspaper, heard someone else mention your company name, or passed by your store on the way home – a website can encourage the “interested” to walk through the doors of your business or order from your catalog once they’ve learned more about your business.

Create Repeat Business

With the help of email postcards, online newsletters, and your website, you can encourage repeat business from current customers or clients. A few ideas include:

  • Send alerts regarding new products.
  • Publish articles centered on your niche.
  • List events and activities of interest.
  • Email periodic coupons and discounts.

Kill the Confusion

In this day and age, it’s better to save time, money, and energy by reducing the number of bad leads that come when interested parties aren’t quite clear on who you are, your location, skills, and what you have to offer. A website allows you to “kill the confusion” regarding your business by answering important questions without ever having to open your mouth.

Boost the Impact of Press Releases and Ads

Press releases and other forms of advertisement inform the world about new businesses, products, and services hitting the marketplace. Capitalize on this connection with the public by allowing potential customers to gather additional details through your website. Keep in mind that this is a great way to bolster business sales.

Save Money

If you invest in printing and postage for your business, consider the prospect of saving money by replacing your printed materials with online advertising delivered through your website and email. Not only will you save a few bucks, but you’ll also place less strain on the environment.

Gain A Heads Up

A website allows you to gauge some of the most appealing aspects of your business. By routinely checking site stats, you can follow the surfing habits of visitors and get a sense of the products, services, and information attracting the most attention. This practice will also help you plan future events for your business, tweak advertising, order appropriate inventory, and predict sales.

Photo Credit: melodi2

Posted by Yona