Agents see thousands of submissions a year. You have to craft a query that stands out above the rest.
Query writing is a different skill than novel writing, but it will be extremely helpful for your career. As novelists, we’re super attached to our novel, and try to cram everything into a pitch or query. It’s difficult to see our work objectively.
This is bad.
The goal is to elecit an emotional response in an agent with 200 words or less. And you want the query to be tight. It doesn’t have to be a mini-outline of the novel. It can be the inciting incident, or a catchy summary of the concept.
In the past, I’ve spent as much time working on query letters and pitches as I do my novels. Queries and pitches are the window to your writing. They represent you. And once you master the skill, it can be incredibly helpful in attracting Hollywood producers as well, where the “logline” is king. In 2017 I had numerous studios and producers reach out to me because of loglines/pitches. Now, that doesn’t mean you’ll convert those opportunities (I’m still waiting on some), but a good pitch will help create them. And as anyone knows, this business is about converting that rare and incredible opportunity.
I highly recommend Query Shark for taking off the whiskey goggles and seeing your query at its essence.
All of this is hard work. No one ever said it would be easy, or that you’re guaranteed anything. But when you have this skill in your pocket, it might just get a little easier.
You never know where a good pitch will take you. Image is from a book to film party at Résidence de France, Beverly Hills.
Politically, 2017 stunk. But it’s been good for my writing. My novel “Black Friday” is on the Stoker Award Reading List, and the Nebula Reading List for work published in 2017. Because of that, I’m offering free copies for any HWA (Horror Writers Association) or SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) member.
In addition, My short story collection “The Gloaming” is on the Stoker list, along with my experimental short horror story “Tree Line”(contained in the “The Gloaming”). I’m making these available for free to any interested HWA members.
“Black Friday” is diverse fiction featuring a black protagonist and strong female characters. The novel is a thriller at heart, but tackles race relations, consumerism, capitalism, and technology. It’s definitely raw and unfiltered work.
I’d like to take this moment to wish everyone a happy and healthy new year. 2017 was a hell of a grind for nearly everyone I know. Yet, most of us made it through.
On the writing front, 2017 was outstanding. “Black Friday” has been incredibly well received by both the science fiction and horror communities, and my first short fiction collection, “The Gloaming” was released. I also had my first audiobook released by Tantor Media (“The Invasive“), and it’s available worldwide.
My debut novel “The Puller” came out in mid-2015, so I’m surprised and happy at how things are moving so quickly. Not to mention I’ve been contacted by at least a dozen producers the last year on various projects. It’s been exciting but also a little nerve-racking. It’s a crazy business, so I’m only going to focus on what I can control-and that’s the writing. For 2018, my writing goal will be aimed at producing two new high concept novels, which I’m really excited about.
In other parts of my life, I couldn’t be happier. I’m still living in my dream place, the great state of Montana. And my girlfriend Rachel recently moved in.
In a way, Montana tends to isolate you from the rest of the country. That has its good and bad points. But it’s been fantastic for my photography and well-being overall.
Wishing you and yours the best possible 2018.
Three of my stories are on the 2017 Bram Stoker Award Recommendation List: “Black Friday” in the novel category, “Tree Line” in the short fiction category, and “The Gloaming” in the fiction collection category. Weird to be on that with Stephen King and David Lynch, to say the least.
I’m offering review copies of all three stories to any interested members of the Horror Writers Association.
I’ll also have some other cool, top secret writing news coming up.
One of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had is backcountry hiking in Redwood National Park. The picture explains why. Otherworldly.