Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wicked Wednesday - querying paranormal romance


Since I'll be querying my paranormal romance (PNR) novel soon, I've been doing a lot of reading about how to write the most effective letter. PNR stories are so varied and quite popular these days. You need to stand out to get noticed, and it all starts with this one email.

The same rules for any query letter apply here too:
- Be professional.
- Be concise.
- Mind your manners.

You want to hook the editor or agent. Most people reading queries for PNR don't want the email to start off with the boring "I'm seeking representation for my blah blah blah." Jump right into it. Ensnare them immediately with the story hook.

If you're able to capture the hook in one sentence, go for it. It's difficult because you want it to encompass the protagonist, the tone, and the conflict. Example: When reluctant psychic, Remy Jones, saves the life of an old woman, she doesn’t expect to be granted a wish in return. (Keri Arthur's HEART'S WISH)

The brief blurb for the book should be between four and six sentences. Make every word count. You must cover the who, what, where, when, and why. And it can't be an every day voice. This is PNR. You must take them out of the ordinary. Also remember that the romance is key. It's what everything hinges upon. Grab their hearts and twist with a great furry werewolf hand.

Include tropes. If you think you don't have any, read your manuscript again. They're there. The tropes like vampires-hate-werewolves-but-protagonist-falls-in-love-with-one or best-friends-turned-lovers are important for the agent or editor to know where you're coming from. PNR publishers tend to like Alpha males, but they won't totally discount you if you have another powerful trope. There's also a call for unique supernatural creatures.

I wish I could offer you more tips than these. I wish someone could tell me what the secret is to writing an amazing query letter. As much as we want to break it down and make a science of it, it's more about heart than anything else.

Do you have any tips for writing query letters?

18 comments:

  1. I suck at writing query letters.

    My problem is usually that I can't seem to figure out what my story is actually about, at its heart. ;)

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  2. I also suck at query letters. Unlike Trisha, I know what my story is about, but I really struggle getting it into the words that will make a potential agent say, "Wow!"

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  3. Awesome tips... And I know you'll do great when you query your story:)

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  4. Great tips. For my first story, I've so struggled with the query, mainly to make my story stand out. I think the second story query is coming easier, maybe because the story is more unique.

    I've heard that you should focus on character, conflict, and end with the stakes for your main character. Good luck when you start querying.

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  5. I agree with you - keep the blurb short!
    Good luck, Christine.

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  6. Thanks, guys! I think it funny how a lot of writers find it difficult to write queries for themselves, but are brilliant at helping their friends compose them. I'm always grateful for my writing buddies. :)

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  7. Great tips, and I think you have a better idea of what to do in a query letter than you think you do. I think one of the best things I've heard is to send queries in small batches, so you can see if the letter is working or not.

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  8. I think there are definite guidelines as to what to put in each short paragraph but I think a lot of it is having something to offer that the agent or editor is currently looking for. Good luck.

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  9. Excellent tips. Good luck with your querying!!!!

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  10. Great tips! I wish I were better at queries, but then again, don't we all? ;)

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  11. I attended a query writing session at SFWC last year, and the editors/agents all said they HATE when you start with one of those questions. You know, like, "What would happen if . . .?" Or "Have you ever . . .?" So don't start that way. Just sayin'.

    BTW, I'll be doing SFWC again next month and posting everything I learn on PepperWords.

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  12. Oh, AND: they prefer query letters to be half a page to 3/4 of a page at most. One of the editors said, "I like it all to fit on my computer screen so I don't have to scroll."

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  13. Good luck with your querying! I hope you land a publisher!

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  14. Break a pen and a vampire, Christine! :D

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  15. Have you checked out Query Shark or Miss Snark yet? Great examples on both! Good luck. :)

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  16. ooh this is really great! I get nervous when it comes to writing query letters, so this is really helpful. :) Good luck with querying, Christine. I might contact you to pick your brain when I'm ready to sub. :)

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  17. Those are some great tips! Good luck querying!

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