Dear Miss Snark,
I have a question about queries. (Hopefully it's not a Nitwit of the Week-worthy one!) As I have a novel I'm revising and intend to submit, I've been doing a good amount of research on the subject. However, I'm finding some contradictory information, and I'm hoping you'll be willing to clarify for me.
Several articles say that in addition to mundane details (word count, genre, etc), synopsis, and professional credits, a writer must also include a paragraph telling the agent or editor why she wrote the book and/or why she believes she's the right person to tell that particular story. Other articles and blog entries from published writers don't mention anything about this at all.
I would think that unless there is an reason pertinent to the book itself (perhaps the writer is a psychologist and the novel takes place in a mental hospital?), that it wouldn't be necessary to include it. I'd think that it could even be detrimental, if the writer pads because it's "supposed" to be there.
Could you please shine some light on this subject?
I don't care if you are singularly UNQUALIFIED to write on a subject: I care only if you write well.
One of the best books of all time is Stewart O'Nan's The Speed Queen. Stewart O'Nan isn't a girl, he's not on Death Row and as far as I know, he's never worked in a drive in. You'd never know it from reading the book.
Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage was written by a man who did not serve in the Civil War.
I'm pretty sure Anne McCaffrey as never seen a dragon, JK Rowling has never seen a wizard, and Harlan Coben is a perfectly law abiding guy who lives in New Jersey. That all of these people can imagine a world completely apart from their everyday haunts and suck me in so far that I not only think their worlds are real, I can't imagine they AREN'T, is a testimony to their writing and imagination.
Write well. Imagine deeply. That's all you need to do.