A Query Letter Begins With Research

A Query Letter Begins With Research

by Judy Spring Query letters… Dun-dun-duuuuuun. (silence) All serious authors face crafting a query letter at some point in their career, and many come to it with dread and apprehension. Most stress and agonize about summarizing their manuscript succinctly so that it invites a publisher to continue on, reading the first few chapters once the letter is complete. It’s nerve-wracking! We are constantly told, “Be yourself, but in a standard way that sticks out.” It is possible that these conflicting messages meshed together are what cause confusion and anxiety when contemplating query letters. The goal of this article is to alleviate that stress by offering some resources and tips about crafting what could be the most important letter of your career. The first step: research. Everywhere you look, that’s the first suggestion you will find. Nichole Canniff, the Chief Operation Officer here at Spectacle Publishing Media Group, LLC has offered this tidbit of her experience: “One thing I cannot stand is when a query letter comes in that isn’t complete per our directions on the website. I might make an exception for a manuscript that is really good; however, when a publisher asks for the first three chapters, a bio, chapter summary and a synopsis—send them all per their instructions. If you do not know what they require, find out. It is unprofessional to submit a query that is incomplete. Most publishers will reject the query right away.” In other words, make sure to read submission guidelines for the publisher before sending in your query. This can be easily accomplished by doing a search on the Internet with the keywords of the company name followed by ‘submission guidelines.’ For your convenience, here is the link to SPMG’s submissions page: http://www.spectaclepmg.com/submissions/. (We are currently not processing any queries until November 3rd, which gives you just enough time to really polish your manuscript and query letter!) Next, make sure to read different ways to approach writing query letters so you can present your genre, your voice, and your story in the best light it deserves while still following the specific guidelines. Canniff warns, “There are a lot of examples of good query letters on the Internet: the format, what to include in the letter itself, etc. Research it, but at the same time, make sure you are putting your own spin to the letter. If you submit a cookie-cutter query letter that all authors are submitting to publishers, you will be no more impressionable than another author.” Websites and blogs all over the Internet warn of this mistake, and a querying author would be very wise to heed the warning. It is possible to find a balance between the standard requirements...

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Why SPMG?

Why SPMG?

by Joy Anne Shearer   Looking for a publisher? Spectacle could be the answer. The following are advantages to working with this dynamic and personalized publishing group. At SPMG, the author and their work come first. One of the biggest indicators of this is that no agent is necessary. You can request assistance in putting together your query and you will be apprised of every move along the way. From access to staff by phone or email any time you might have a question, to workshops for your piece when it needs a few improvements to be the best it can be, Spectacle will walk you through the publishing process. We’re writers too, so not only do we understand where you’re coming from, we’ll help you take advantage of each step so that your work will be given the attention it deserves. SPMG is experienced in and prepared to assist you with what’s new, including eBooks and audio books. The number of readers on digital devices increases all the time—readers who the people at SPMG want to help you reach. Traditional book printing is also available. Before your book ever hits the stands, our Public Relations and Marketing Department will work with you to develop your brand and get your name out there. All in all, at SPMG we truly support what writers are doing and want to promote your art. You can find more information at http://spectaclepmg.com. Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...

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The Zombie Thing

Since it’s the season for horror writing (though I think true Zombie aficionados are always alert and wary for the possibility of an undead uprising, regardless of the time of year) I thought it’d be a good time to talk about a tidal wave of a trend in fiction. I’m guessing if you’re any sort of Zombie fan, you’ve read The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z by Max Brooks. These two books, so well researched and cleverly assembled helped to make the concept of a species-ending epidemic or plague, very real, bringing them close to home at the same time, viewing such terrific events from a cool and clinical perspective. This perspective added a level of plausibility that the genre had lacked before. Max Brooks two books are clear, concise, informative and not the blood-spattered, hysterical screaming gore fests many of us have come to associate with the genre.   But if we jump back a little further, I want to say 2002, there’s a film written by Alex Garland and directed by Danny Boyle that I think not only revitalized the genre, but sent it spiraling off into new directions in both literature and cinema. 28 Days Later is the tale of a virus outbreak that spreads rapidly from person to person, causing not cannibalistic hunger as we’ve come to expect from zombies, but simple, unchecked rage. This infection forces a loss of reason and freewill upon its victims, essentially turning them into mindless killers (zombies.)So far, we’re not seeing major differences in the plot; same disease vector, same results, panicked civilization, trains are no longer on time, et cetera. Then it hits you right in the face: these zombies can run. Now only can they run, but they’re fast! This simple change in an otherwise clichéd monster’s behavior not only made them actually frightening again, but increased the plausibility of the whole event, not to mention revitalizing a dead (heh) sub-genre of horror. Zombies create the perfect union of post-apocalyptic settings.   Opportunities for characters are limitless. For example, how would survivors behave knowing there were no consequences for their actions? Without law and order, who decides right and wrong? Perhaps more to the point, who is stop those who choose to do wrong? This setting provides for limitless exploration of ethics and morality plays. As long as your internal cosmology is consistent, your plausibility remains high and the fictional elements are not even doubted.   AMC’s The Walking Dead is a good example of this. The situation is internally consistent – the laws of physics and the cause-effect pattern of the zombie infection is consistent. In situations where there is doubt, the writers take special care to place just enough exposition dialogue to allow the audience to...

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Why Not Self Publish?

Writing. Editing. Publishing. Marketing. It’s easy right? It’s easy to put together thousands of words into a coherent and compelling narrative. Easy. Like staring down Nolan Ryan and thwacking a fast-ball right over his head and into the upper deck. That looks easy too. Perhaps my reference is a bit dated or topically irrelevant for my intended audience–sounds like something an editor might comment about. The joke is often something along the lines of a writer spends months bleeding their soul onto the page and an editor comes along and fixes their spelling. Sure. I’ll fix your spelling. I’ll check your facts. I’ll even explain the difference between an em-dash and an en-dash. But, these things are just a part of the process–perhaps even an afterthought. The main task of an editor is to coax out the best possible version of your story all while keeping keeping the whole thing from jumping the rails and smashing into a propane-pipeline. With self-publishing, vanity-press, a writer is at a fundamental and distinctive disadvantage. Lack of review. In every field, every profession, there is a peer-reviewed vetting process. A scientist’s ideas and conclusions constantly squirm within the crucible of scrutiny from one’s peers. Designers and advertising agencies produce hundreds of marketing ideas before just a single idea makes the cut and gets accepted by other marketers. Think of how athletes are constantly training and conditioning to be better, faster and stronger. The peer-review process, the editorial process, is basically the same as an athlete’s conditioning process. With a publishing company, with an editor, an author has the security of knowing their work is in peak form, and that ol’ aunt Agnes won’t be phoning up in a couple of days to report all manner amateur mistakes. Why do we buy Cheerios? Nike? Coca-Cola? The reason is simple: marketing. Okay, so you’ve gone the vanity-press method: you have a link to your ebook and you paid a hefty sum of money for several dozen print copies, you have Agnes waiting on hold and now what? You’re already down perhaps thousands of dollars, not to mention the time it took you to write the book, and suddenly no one seems to have any interest. Well, the answer is simple: marketing isn’t as easy as it looks and ought to be left to those with experience. When buying a cut of beef I want the butcher’s opinion–not the cow’s opinion. Your book comes from you. No one is going to listen to you mooing all over the place talking about your tasty beef. That’s the butcher’s job, and it’s the job of professional marketing to spread the word about your delicious book. Simply put, this...

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Feeling Jolly? Pass it around!

Spectacle Publishing wants your warm and fuzzy holiday heroes and heroines! Got a book about the best Christmas ever? Have you crafted a heart-warming tale of inspiration and cheer? Maybe you’ve got a wild ride about your best (worst) New Years resolution? Lets have it! What we’re looking for specifically: Full length novels (70,000 words or more) Holiday themed, positive, uplifting, human experience Character driven plots No clichés (unless they are damn clever) Send us only your very best work. We want to publish your work, but we also want it to be successful. Our editors take great pains to make sure your work gets a fair review. If they like your work, they work with you, becoming a creative partner, getting your work in the possible shape for success. Besides, think of what we went through to kid-nap a truckload of elves with mad editing skill. What are you waiting for? The Query Elf lives here. Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...

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