Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Dreaded Thank Yous


I hate writing thank you notes. With a passion, I hate writing them. I feel like I'm constantly writing thank-yous - there are birthday parties, adoption parties, adoption days, graduations (yes, she received a few presents for pre-school graduation - and she hasn't even graduated yet; that comes next year!) and anniversaries to celebrate. It isn't that I don't appreciate being remembered, it's the action of sitting down and finding the exact right thing to say - but saying that exact right thing in a different way for 15-20 people. It's stressful, even for a writer. I would much rather tell someone thank you, so I can explain why that writing board for bebe was the perfect gift or how we used that gift card to that fancy restaurant...

To me, a thank you has always been like a query letter in reverse - instead of expressing my appreciate, I'm trying to get an editor/agent interested in my 'gift' (the manuscript) and then expressing appreciation for their time. So it's kind of similar.

The editor or agent needs to know what the book is about, what the length is and maybe a little about the author - emphasis on the 'little'. They don't have the time or even interest in reading every detail of our lives or a full page of backstory for our characters. This is where queries have to be succint. The editor needs to know very specific stuff from the query: what obstacles are in the way of the hero/heroine? what preconceived notions do they have? what will they try to accomplish through the story? More than those little details are too much for a query - save the rest for the synopsis (all 2 to 5 pages of it!) and wrap up that query.

Do you readers have any tried and true query Do's or Don'ts?