Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Writer Wednesday--Feed the Horse

I hope that no agent or publisher out there will take this personally, but they are a lot like a horse.

Horses will not eat just anything. But a horse will eat hay, oats, carrots and apples. Not only will they eat them, but they will eat them right out of your hand. 

Horses get hay all of the time, so they will only eat that if they are really really hungry. If your book is like hay, it may take a famine to get an agent or publisher to look at you.

Oats, carrots and apples are a treat. Horses will eat them even if their bellies are full. I highly recommend writing something that falls more into this category. Many agents and publishers will tell you what this is; spending some time reading their website or blog should be helpful. For further help, consider reading this blog post about current trends in the YA/MG world. Or, you could just write something that will knock their socks off.

The thing about horses, though, is that they are clumsy eaters. You have to know how to hold your hand just right so that you don't lose your fingers. Or, you have to know how to hold the food just right so that it actually makes it into the horses mouth rather than onto the ground. When it comes to writing, this is where a good query letter comes in. Here are a few pointers:
  • Know your agent/publisher before you begin. Despite what you may have heard, every single one of them wants something different. Keep a sample letter saved in word that you can customize for everyone you send it to.
  • Be brief. (But not too brief.) Your letter will most likely include a short intro, a body that features a short synopsis, and an ending that includes a short, pertinent bio. (Even though it's not in bold, the "pertinent" part is critical. Nobody wants to know what your hobbies are or how wonderful you think your book is. At least, not yet.)
  • Have someone proof it for you and give feedback before you send. If someone is going to reject you, they're going to reject you. Don't let it be because you could have written a better query letter.
  • Let your writing SHINE. Now, I'm not telling you to include glitter, because I've heard they hate that. But, it should get their attention. It should make them say, "Holy crap, that was awesome and it was only a query letter!"
If you would like me to proof your query, feel free to send it along (melissalemon(dot)writing(at)gmail(dot)com). A great place to learn about writing query letters is the Query Shark blog.

Happy querying writers. And don't forget to feed the horse (I mean agent/publisher).


Cindy M Hogan author of Watched said...

I'm new here from AI. Fun to meet you. Funny blog.

Matthew Tandy said...


I found your blog via your post a AI. I loved the horse analogy and I would think any agent or publisher would find it amusing also. Look forward to reading more in the future.

Matt Tandy

Angela Ackerman said...

Haha, great analogy!!

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Brenda Sills said...

Fantastic post! I love the horse comparison. I can't wait to read your book - it sounds so wonderful and I love the title! And hey, thanks for being a follower on my blog!