12.16.2006

HH Com 59

It's difficult to compose any type of meaningful query letter for this type of book. And none of my stories fits within the 250 word limit, so including one here would be certain form-letter rejection. I suppose I could use the text-message shorthand that's so popular with the younger
generation these days. But somehow I think asking you to "Pls rd my buk its gr8" would result in a midnight visit by a certain white attack poodle intent on permanently removing me from the literary world before I do any more harm.

Although lacking in context, perhaps a short excerpt from one story will help show my style:

After setting up an IV, I was given a briefing by the nurse. One of the things she put a lot of emphasis on was the fact that I would feel very bloated. She kept saying "When you feel a little gas, just push those little bunnies right outta there."

Not for anything, but when I'm visiting a doctor's office to have a tube shoved up my coo for the first time in my life, hearing analogies about the possibility of fuzzy, little bunny rabbits also being stuffed up there doesn't help. I mean really...is there some line of children's books out there that explains flatulence by depicting cartoon bunnies popping out of the rear-ends of little kids, while they blush and go 'Ooopsie'?


If you can't describe your book to me, how am I going to describe it to an editor? The sales force at the publisher? a bookstore buyer? Michiko at a the next Rollerderby match?

Don't pull the old " oh I can't do this but just read my novel and you'll see". That IS an automatic no. Suck it up. It's hard. Do it.
And dear dog, don't open with fart jokes unless you're writing for 8year olds.

11 comments:

December Quinn said...

After setting up an IV, I was given a briefing by the nurse.

Why is the patient setting up her own IV?

And what is a "coo"? I thought it was a euphamism for vagina, but now it seems it's a euphemism for anus. (See, you can type clinical words for clarity, so readers aren't left guessing.)

Anonymous said...

Bad. Pretty damn unsellably bad.

ORION said...

Miss Snark is right on. I thought I was done with having to describe my book until I was sent the author questionnaire from the marketing dept of my publisher. They wanted more.
Tell us why you wrote the book. Tell us about the book. Tell us why someone would want to read this book. Tell us about the book again. Shorter. Longer. Now do another one shorter.
What's your book about again?
These go into letters that go out to the people that buy for book chains. You do not get them to order your book by saying "You just gotta read it!" or giving them an excerpt.
I myself will not buy a book that does not have a succinct description on the back flap.

Anonymous said...

Also, try to avoid opening with a misplaced modifier (assuming, of course, that the narrator didn't set up his/her own IV).

Anonymous said...

And unneccesary passive voice: "I was given a briefing by the nurse." The nurse gave you a briefing.

HawkOwl said...

You can't write a hook, and you also can't write a sentence. "After setting up an IV I was given a briefing" means the guy getting the colonoscopy just set up his own IV. Also you're writing about farts. That might be why you don't know where to start with trying to make someone want to buy it.

randomsome1 said...

This reminds me of the kids whose idea of writing a summary consists of "i suck at summarys just reed it ok lol!!!" It's always a marker of crap writing.

Author: ask yourself what it is in this sample that makes the reader care. Then apply the same question to the book itself. Barely a dribble of story isn't gonna do it.

MWT said...

And dear dog, don't open with fart jokes unless you're writing for 8year olds.

... or unless you're John Scalzi, with The Android's Dream. ;)

Dave said...

Don't do this "I can't describe {something}" ...
I heard that line from too many people and when I did management work, I could show them just how to break their work down and describe it.
In writing, that's called "learning how to write."

Anonymous said...

If you say you can't describe your work, I assume one of two things: it is so all over the place and a mess that is defies description...beyond bad, or you think your work is soooo brilliant that to describe it or put it is a catagory is an affront to your "art." First, writers who write art master grammar and have clear ideas about what their work is about. Join a critique group, read some books on how to write, take a few classes and then write a book with a clear storyline and come back. Hemmingway and Joyce had to pitch their work and so do you.

Rei said...

Well, now we know where Rabbitania is...