2.09.2007

Yes, The ClueGun is Needed

Dear Miss Snark,

Could I attract an agent with a web page/blog instead of a query letter? Since many agents are now taking email queries, could this be the next progression? After all, I can pack a lot more pizazz into a web presence than a short letter, and blogs make it near trivial for anyone to do this. I've tried to set mine up so a potential agent can quickly get a sense of the book and decide if they want to see more. This was actually easier for me to do than write a query letter. I'm not so naive as to think they'll somehow stumble on my page, but couldn't I write them a nice, polite, best-selling-writer-ly email that essentially says, "Yo awesome agent! Check this out!"

I've only been reading your blog for a few weeks now, so if you're reaching for the cluegun could you please aim for the legs? I need my hands to type my next masterpiece.


Everyone who is all-fired hot for e-queries forgets that eventually you have to cough up actual pages. Pages. Not websites, not blogs, not electrons: pages. Those pages may come electronically but I assure you they get printed at my office, and probably at the editor's office.

A good web presence is never all text like a page. Even this blog, low-tech, visually plain, has a picture of the pooch, a top ten list, more than one color, a headline, links and some snarky bio. In other words it looks like a query as much as Killer Yapp looks like a horse. They both have four legs, two eyes and a wicked way with teeth but I bet you know which is which.

And look at the layout. Lots of short sentences. Lots of white space. There's a huge difference between a fun zippy webpage and a fun zippy book. Writing for the two SEPARATE DISTINCT forms requires two not-identical skill sets. Some of the worst websites in the world belong to writer's groups/writers/book people cause they think it's all about the writing.

You'll need a website but it will be for supplementals to your query, not in place of it.

If you wrote to me and said "hey check out this cool website" I wouldn't take you seriously, I wouldn't click on your website and I wouldn't be taking you on as a client.

IF you send a query and pages, as clearly requested, and you mention your nifty cool website in the body of the query, I'd look at it IF your writing interested me.


Just follow the damn directions.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are forgetting that queries should be convenient for the agent, not the author.

Heidi the Hick said...

I never mention my blog on my query letters. I think I'd drop it to an agent who took me on though.

It's kind of lazy to just send a query consisting of "Hey, look at my blog/ website."

Besides, my blog is NOT my novel!

takoda said...

Killer Yap would definitely be an Appaloosa.

The Color: KY doesn't have striped hooves, but she is Appaloosa white. Perhaps when she's had a muddy day of it, she may acquire some typical brown blotches.

The Gait: KY possesses a strong and versatile gait. We've heard about her galloping about Central Park.

Personality: KY is intelligent and can outsmart any park-residing rodent.

Disposition: KY puts up with a lot of crap.

If you need more evidence of KY's true horse nature, go to

http://students.ou.edu/L/Susannah.M.Lowell-1/appaloosa.html

Ryan Field said...

There's also something so painfully self-indulgent and small town about most of these personal web sites (and blogs) you actually start to feel bad for the writer.
And that's not what you want when you're querying an agent.

Anonymous said...

"Just follow the damn directions."

Hear, hear! I'm always amazed at the authors who give me a one liner about themselves and their book before directing me to their website so I can "get all the details." Yeah, uh huh, I guess the submission guidelines on our website are for the tourists...

cm allison said...

Hey Takoda,
I agree that if KY was a horse, he'd be an Appy, esp. since I know them well: raise them. VERY intelligent, but don't think they are "kind". Can be, but have a very protective side also. Had one damage himself rather then me, his rider.
KY would fight to the death for MS I bet.

(VerWord: nirtypl, what the stallion is always thinking)

Cyndi Drolet said...

I'm not ready to promo my work big time yet, so am not ready to spring the bucks for a Website that isn't advertising driven (the free ones all have those annoying banners, promo spots, etc).

But blog pages are free. So I repurposed a few pages a bit and set up a mini site specifically for editors/agents. The "cover page" of the site has book covers from the books and mags where my short stories have appeared. And it has my query hook content. And then links to the first chapter of each book I'm trying to put under contract. Those chapter pages are clean. White pages. Dark text. With just a couple of links off to the right-hand side. There is nothing extraneous to wade through.

And I do not publish comments. I want it to be a pro-feeling site. Then I include the link in my queries (NOT in place of a typical query letter) and suggest the editor/agent can read the first chapter right then if the query interests them.

Two clicks and the interested editor/agent can make an immediate determination to ask for more chapters/a full (real pages, properly formatted) or send a rejection.

But the choice to view is up to the agent/editor and AFTER they've read the traditional query letter.

Tattieheid said...

Dear Miss Snark,

You are getting soft. Is it old age, too much gin or just the time of year?

Can I just set up a blog and avoid writing a book at all? That way I don't have to worry about querying agents, publishers or my bank manager. Obviously my writing will be so wonderful someone will pay me millions of bucks to cease and desist.

Yours etc.
A.N. Eedjit.

Mark said...

I keep newspaper clips and a couple of sample chapters of the product line on mine, but only refer an agent there as an aside, not directly or instead of.

One can never be sure if the agent will click or not, so it's best to CYA in that regard: put it directly in frony of their eyes. Save the sightseeing for later.

Anonymous said...

...if you're reaching for the cluegun could you please aim for the legs? - omg, I can't stop laughing! And I'm at work...and people are wondering what the heck I'm doing! Mental note: read this blog at home only.

BuffySquirrel said...

I thought the clue gun was strictly a head shot.

Linda Adams said...

It's also a surprising amount of work for someone to visit a Web site. You get a letter with a Web address in it. You have to open the Web browser (maybe the cable is down today, and it doesn't work), type the address in from the letter--oops!--got a 404! That probably is because you typed in the name wrong, which is easy to do, but you just decided the site is gone. End of visit.

heidi the rare bird said...

"After all, I can pack a lot more pizazz into a web presence than a short letter"

But can you pack pizazz into a short letter? Using nothing but words?

If you can't, then how can we trust you to pack pizazz into something as big and complex as a novel?