Ian McEwan appreciates brevity. According to Shelf Awareness, at a BEA breakfast Mr. Nobel-Prize-Any-Year-Now stood up and quoted Herodotus: “‘No man should speak longer than he can make love.’ So thank you very much.” And then he started to go back to his seat before he continued his speech.
So, in the spirit of Ian McEwan, and also because I’m extremely busy today, this will be a short post. You will have plenty of time to get back to reading ON CHESIL BEACH in just a moment.
One reason agents are such sticklers regarding queries is that, well, they write them too, only they’re not called queries. They’re called pitch letters.
When agents submit manuscripts to publishers they include a pitch letter, calling attention to the salient parts of a manuscript/proposal, the marketability, draws attention to how awesome the author is, and which basically hopes to persuade the editor to put the manuscript/proposal at the top of the pile.
Styles of pitch letters vary greatly from agent to agent and range from “Here’s the manuscript” to magnificent opuses that should be framed in a museum, but the basic function is the same — to get someone’s attention.
So, you see, agents know how hard it is to write query letters too — it’s part of their job description.
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Art: Lilla Cabot Perry, Portrait of William Dean Howells