New writers tend to cringe when they hear about query letters. They seem so “non-creative,” and so business-y and lacking in entertainment value.
But lemme tell ya… Writing query letters can be a blast!
At least, they are for me. You see, I’m a researcher at heart. If someone offered me a researching job today, paying me just a little more than I’m making now, I’d jump at the opportunity. Searching for information about something, whether it’s within my realm of expertise or interest or not, is like an adventure for me. You see, I always want to find that one amusing factoid that nobody else (much) knows that I can add to my work.
Query letters that have something amazing in them are often the most enjoyment an editor gets all day. I know. I did a stint as an editor for a couple of years, and let me tell you that reading through a slush pile or line editing can be tedious work. I realize that some pubs have editors for each thing, but I was an all-purpose editor. LOL I did it all — assigning stories, editing, creating subheads, and on and on. Whatever the publisher needed, I did. It was fun for a while, but yikes! It gets boring after a while.
So, in your query letter… If you give them something amazing, they’re going to sit up and take notice. I’m always on the lookout for a cool fact or statistic that I can include for that very reason.
For example, it’s a little-known fact that… old-time Tibetans used just a little yak dung in their yak butter tea. Why? To keep the tea leaves together, of course. So… what’s your reaction. YUK! Right? Worked for them, and I’m guessing that some of the rural Tibetans still follow that practice to this day.
That’s the kind of item you want. Find something that will pique an editor’s interest, get them to read further down the query, and then, buy the article or book. The fun part comes in digging up these little cool blurbs so that they know you’re not just writing off the top of your head, but it’s really something you’ve thought about and done some preliminary research on.
Let me assure you… A page from your life probably won’t make the news. I can’t tell you how many people think they can write those stories and sell them. Doesn’t often happen. You have to be totally and completely INCREDIBLE!
So, if you want to write. Find something that interests you and start there. Find some very interesting facts and then, look at yesterday’s post for how your query should be constructed.