A quick bit of query advice for this Thursday. I know you’ll find all over the Internets that writing qualifications are important. They definitely are if you’re writing nonfiction. But for novels: not so much. Honestly.
Qualifications are icing. They can adjust the calculus in my brain that leads me to request a partial, but they’re far from the biggest factor that goes into my decision. I’ve seen novels from authors with impeccable credentials that I knew I couldn’t sell, and I have sold novels from authors with basically no qualifications.
Lately I’ve been getting lots of queries where the story is described in just a tiny first paragraph with only the barest of inadequate description, and the rest of the query describes the author’s qualifications and/or other extraneous things that don’t belong in the query. Please don’t do this! I like you a lot (really, I do), but for qualifications I only need a short paragraph with the highlights. Please please please focus on your story and what makes it stand out.
Particularly with the tough publishing climate and incredible deluge of queries, I just don’t have time these days to take chances on projects that don’t really grab me in the query. Thus, I’m passing on some of these types of queries, even if it gives me heartburn and indigestion and takes years of my life to do so. I really don’t want to miss anything, but time is tight. Think of my health, people!
Unless you’re a rock star or the pope, I’m not selling you, I’m selling your novel. The query should be focused accordingly.