Upon completion of a novel, authors spend a number of hours writing the synopsis and then the query. The query is probably more important than anything you have written to date. Why? Because this is the very first thing an editor or agent will read. It comes before any synopsis or chapter.
What is the difference between a query and a pitch? To me, very, very little. Both must convey all the information about the characters, hook, market and the basics about the author such as publishing history. An author could spend as much time reading about how to craft the perfect pitch/query letter and synopsis as they do researching their novel. When deemed as perfect as perfect can be, in the author’s eyes anyway, it is shipped off to the dream editor/agent. Or, it is memorized and ready for your ten minutes at the valued editor/agent appointment, or the chance meeting at a convention.
Unfortunately, the rejections far outweigh the contract offers and sadly, authors often don’t know why. Was it in the delivery? The storyline? The color of my dress? Font used in the query letter? I understand that agents and editors are very, very busy and cannot take time to give a detailed response to each and every submission that land on their desk or in the e-mail. I’ve heard stories of the Dear Author letter that is a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy that basically rejects the author. There have been postcards with simply “not interested at this time” and the no letter at all, just the returned query with a “no thank you” written on it.
On the bright side, the author isn’t sitting and waiting for a response, but on the other hand, they have no clue of what went wrong.
Like all authors, I have tried to prepare the perfect and concise pitch. I’ve read books, visited websites and attended workshops and have learned from each. However, I learned much more this weekend than anywhere else. On Thursday, Deb Werksman of Sourcebooks offered to take pitches at the Casablanca Author’s blog. Over 100 pitches were posted that day. And when I last looked, little over half of them received a response, though Ms. Werksman promised to respond to each and every one by midnight Sunday. I’ve learned more about pitching from not only her blog on the subject, also from the pitches themselves, and her requests and passes. Though nobody wants to hear “I am going to pass on this” it still is softer than, “Rejected”.
It takes a lot of guts to send a query off, but even more so to post it in a public forum for the world to read because that is the same forum where Ms. Werksman will either request or pass. It is hard enough to face a rejection but doubly so when the whole world can read about it. However, even when she has passed, it has not been cruel or insensitive, but very informative.
I am glad so many authors took the opportunity to post because each one of them is a lesson and pitching that every author, regardless on genre, can learn from. You can read her blog here.
Did you take the chance and post to Deb Werksman? If not, is there a reason? Did you read that blog? If so, did you find it as informative as me?