Monday, 29 March 2010

Does your query breach the trades description act?

So, the final query below wasn't the final query. I had a bit of help from a friend. Just a bit of help in re-phrasing and urm, well, quite a lot of help actually.

The importance of the query is something I've only just realised. Being new to this game, it's a three steps forward two back, learning curve thing. But, what's the point in perfecting chapter 49 and making sure you haven't spelt penguin wrong in chapter 68 if no one ever reads it?

It's occurred to me, and I'm probably wrong I usually am, that those three paragraphs that make up the query are the most important ones you'll ever write. They're the ones that get the proverbial foot in the door. Make a halfhearted job of it and your manuscript will remain a load of 1's and 0's on a hard drive or be self published and bought by 20 people. This is common knowledge and I'm sure I've read or heard it many times before, but it's just clicked.

within an hour of sending out the new query, an agent asked for the first 50 pages. This is either: a fluke, he was bored/a sadist or the new query has worked a lot better than the old one.

That brings me nicely to the title. If your query is too good, can an agent prosecute you under the trades description act for wasting his/her time when they actually read your manuscript? I'll let you know...

No pie pictures today. Oh, go on then. This is the alternative Sausage Roll Finger cover.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Different query

For the last batch of queries to go out, I thought I'd readdress the query itself. Is it up to much? Is it good enough? etc.

The answer, haven't got a clue. What do I know, this is all new to me as it must be to most of us. I've read what I can, tried many times to write the query and I still don't know.

This, hopefully final, version has less use of the word pie, is shorter and more to the point, but I think still lacks something. It's so hard in just a few short paragraphs to not only give a sense of the book, but also your writing style or voice as some people like to call it.

Am I alone in just wishing all the Agents would reject it straight away so I can get on with writing again? Probably.

Oh yeah, the query. Here it is.

Eczema suffering secret agent Barry Frond hopes his new task for the agency will take his mind off both his ex and his multiple personalities. However, the task (the simple collection of a memory card filled pie) quickly goes wrong leaving Barry on a wild chase through the streets of Basingstoke to find a pie, a man on sick leave who eats pies and a secret society similar to the Masons, known as the Free-Cutters.

After Barry teams up with bad-back suffering Don Spillacy, their quest for answers takes them to the Free-Cutters memorial hall in Cumbria. Will Barry and Don find out the secret? Or is this destined to be a pastry case with no filling?

Complete at 120,000 words, Spies, lies and pies is a comedy spy thriller in the style of Hugh Laurie’s The Gun Seller and Graham Greene’s Our Man From Havana. It is a celebration of the anti-hero British spy who drinks gallons of tea, talks to himself and messes up punch lines. Does he win in the end? Sort of.

If you're wondering where 13,000 words disappeared to. Some were edited, the others were a side story that has been removed for the time being.

Anyway no pie pictures today. Instead, the cover to Sausage roll finger that Bradley Wind did.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

First rejection

Had my first rejection yesterday. The first of many no doubt. Well, a maximum of ten. It was a standard rejection so I have no idea if they read any part of it or not.

One thought has crossed my mind. If you're an agent sitting in your nice chair, eating biscuits and drinking tea and you receive a query letter from someone claiming to have written a pastry themed comedy spy thriller. Do you think a) it's a wind up, b) mental instability is on the increase or c) this is a genuine comedy novel?

My query is as serious as I could make it, but describing a comedy farce of pastry proportions involves the use of comedy. I'm thinking maybe I should add a 'I'm serious about writing but I write about non-serious subjects' type of qualifier. Obviously I'll phrase it better than that.

But, if they don't read it anyway, what does it matter?

Monday, 8 March 2010

The Start

In a break from sending out queries to agents. I started writing another book. This is now the fifth on the go. In my opinion, the start is always the best part.

For one, it's difficult. How do you start? Where do you start? How do you instantly catch the reader and not let them go. The easiest way I've found is action, a joke or an unusual observation. Probaby all cliches but who cares. It works.

Spies lies and pies starts: On a scale of going wrong, this had hit ten.
Apart from being meaningless (no scale is defined) it seems to work. People just assume ten is the top end of the scale and something has gone badly wrong.

Some of my other starts are:

Jeffrey was no normal security guard. Sat on his arse eating a cheese sandwich, you'd be forgiven for thinking he was.

If there was one thing Fred hated it was time wasters. He didn't like cushions either, but timewasters, they were the worse.

Watching the huge nosed jogger run by, Bryn pondered the aerodynamics. He knew someone would be researching this. In time, all sprinters will have snouts like the Eiffel Tower.

These are all different to my chosen start to Spies for one reason. The main character is not named. It's passive. So, should I change it?

No. I think writers and wannabe writers punish themselves too much over little things,we all assume it's one word in the wrong place that stops us getting published. Perhaps it's not. Perhaps it's tens of thousands of books being touted in a declining industry that, because it's a business, wants a guarranteed return on it's money.

So, what was the point of this again? Dunno. If you've written the book you wanted to write and no one wants it should you change it or start again on a new one.

I know what I'll be doing.