Last year at the 2015 Colorado Gold Conference, I moderated a lively panel discussion by incredibly sharp-witted agents and editors. I had no idea why they asked me to moderate this panel, but I have to say, I enjoyed every second of it. Well, not really. I didn’t like having to fuss with the microphone. But once I found the right spot and finally got it clipped on–everything from then on was a hoot. What can I say. The panel took each question and ran with it full of energy and humor, leaving the audience with wonderful insight.
In preparing questions, I asked the panel about things I didn’t know. If I didn’t know the answers, probably the audience didn’t either.
Here are two question with profound answers.
Q: What happens right after you receive a manuscript you love?
Their collective answer stopped me cold.
Did you know if they love your manuscript, they have to sell it to their team? They may only have forty-five seconds to a few minutes to sell your book to a team of five to twenty people. Can you sell your own book to someone in that short of time? Could you sell it to a team of twelve when each may have their own favorite book to push? I knew I couldn’t.
My own query letters weren’t going to cut it. What query letter could possibly be powerful enough to do this work? This led me to ask the next question.
Q: What do you need from the writer to successfully sell his/her book to your team?
All of them agreed on this next answer.
They needed a shorthand way of describing your book to their team mates. The way they can do this is with comparable titles. Then they started giving riotous examples of what not to do: Annie of Green Gables meets the Motorcycle Diaries, or some such nonsense.
Anyway, it all came down to the fact these talented professionals spend hours researching comparable titles to showcase your manuscript. It’s draining and time consuming. Another huge frustration for these agents and editors is finding people to write cover blurbs for your book after they’ve acquired it. As one editor said (something like this) “Thank you for writing a blurb for XXX. Would you write a blurb for this other great book? Also, I have another great book….And another great book….”
Now you get the idea. Everyone agreed these writing conference are where you meet and build relationships with current and future authors. When you become more than heart to heart writing companions, these writer friends will read your stories. If they’re your friends, then you can ask them to write good stuff about your book so you can put their words on the back of your covers. Right? There’s a plus for them, too. When you sell your book, the blurbs on the back of your cover help to advertize their books too.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
Each one of you who is about to send off a query letter should stop. Rewrite that letter and include comparable titles with a couple of blurbs from respected authors. Now you’ve given the agent or editor ammunition to take to their sales meeting. They can quickly shoot out a description of your book and then hit the bulls eye using the validation blurbs from those other authors.
Pssss~~I did this. My book will be coming out in a few weeks. I’m excited! Really-really excited!
Have any of you sent comparable titles and/or blurbs with your query letters? How did it work for you?