Saturday, 24 July 2010

Why Indie Authors Should Start Writing Queries Again

Okay, so we promised we would teach you how to write an effective Smashwords synopsis, and here it is... write a query.

Wait!!! What???

Yes, a query.

There are plenty of sites on the net that teach you how to do this, but we'll break it down here for you as well.

Dear Agent you basically don't need any of this suck-up shit so throw it in you desktop bin.

My novel is a genre wordcount story can be binned.

When orphaned Harry Potter discovers he is a wizard, and is taken to wizard boarding school, he couldn't be happier to be away from his awful aunt and uncle. But as he makes friends and learns magic he discovers a terrible truth... that his mother and father were murdered, and the evil wizard who killed them is after Harry, too.

There you go, none of the issues discussed in the previous post here.

Authors submitting to agents spend a long time making their queries just right. They have their queries critiqued. They rework them and rework them. They go over them in writing groups. They quite often put hundreds of man hours of effort into making them perfect. All this so ONE PERSON will buy their book and then ship it to publishers, hoping ONE MORE PERSON will buy their book.

Don't give us any crap that they need to do this because publishers and agents are gatekeepers. Don't tell us it needs more work to go to these "gatekeepers" because it doesn't, and to think it does only insults your readers.

At the end of the day, it comes down to how many copies you want to sell. Look at how much effort those other guys put in to sell to 2 people. We think you would love to sell a few thousand. Then it is simple, the synopsis should be the very centre part of what would be a query if you were going for one of the Agency 6.

Our upcoming short story, Coffee, is only a 1000 words long. Here is a possible blurb for it:

They said Galileo was mad. They denounced Darwin. Now they seek to discredit me. Well, I won't have it.

A possible blurb because we probably won't use it.

We might use

Coffee. The very word has a taste to it, a smell. You can't ever separate the three; word, taste, smell. As soon as one comes to mind, they all do. But what could be hiding behind a taste and smell so strong?

It is difficult to use a 1000 word story to illustrate points made on a 50k story. So here is something else to consider, the upcoming Matilda Raleigh novella. Yes, we're planning the synopsis already, a month and more before the grand release.

After a lifetime of adventures, Matilda Raleigh is finally dying. But when people she trusts betray her, and threaten all she holds dear, Matilda picks up her demon-possessed revolvers once more and heads off to stop them. Can she stay alive long enough to save the world one last time?

So, this isn't great.

It's actually quite shit, if we're honest. We have the gist of what we want to say, though we hoped for more (something about allies becoming enemies, enemies becoming allies would have been nice) and we had definitely hoped to plug our non-sparkley vampires, but c'est la vie.

We've not actually told you specific ways to improve, we know. But by pointing out what doesn't work, and including some examples of what could work, you may find your own way. If you don't, we shall make a further post with more detailed scenarios for success.

Edit: we used that second synopsis for Coffee. It's available now on Smashwords, download it for free.

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