Pretend to be an Agent (30 Covers, 30 Days)

First some news.  Tomorrow I will host a giveaway for Love Sucks!  Tune in tomorrow for details.

Now onto my regularly scheduled programming.  Two years ago, the NaNoWriMo gurus chose my novel, Nano Kid, to receive a cover from a professional artist for 30 Covers, 30 Days.  Since then, I’ve been very interested in the nomination thread.  Last year I didn’t qualify because I was doing a series of chapter books instead of one novel, but it was still fun to read the nominations thread.

In the nominations thread, each poster shares a synopsis for a novel that they hope will get a cover.  This is not synopsis like the 1-5 page thing everyone dreads.  It’s basically a query letter.  The nomination can be for their own or someone else’s.  I nominated myself two years ago, and a friend nominated me this year.  So fingers crossed.

But these synopses range in quality and size.  I find that key words can sometimes draw me in.  Formatting can make a difference.  Certain phrases or descriptions can lose me.  Some seem too similar to a bunch of others I had seen.  Some are totally unique.  Voice can be a turn on or a turn off.  An interesting title might make me give more patience to a slow-starting synopsis.  Very short synopses might catch my attention due to brevity, but I usually find I want more.  However, longer synopses have better have hooked me from the first sentence or else it’s time to skim.

What’s interesting to those querying authors out there is that you find out really quickly how easy it is to decide what you’re passing on and what you want to read more of.  Don’t hook me right away, and I start to skim.  Now, I might be drawn back (one last paragraph really caught my interest on one I was skimming), but usually I can tell right away when I’m not going to be interested.  When I am interested, I want to read more (but I can’t, ‘cuz, hey, these books weren’t written yet).

So it’s an eye-opening exercise for all those authors out there who are wondering how an agent turned around a rejection (or request) on your query in under a minute.  You just know if you want to read more.  I commented on every synopsis that sounded remotely interesting to me.  Something that makes this different from, say, critiquing in Absolute Write’s Query Letter Hell or Query Shark is that at no time did the “rules” of writing a query letter occur to me.  I never once thought, “Oh no, a rhetorical question. Next.” All that mattered was whether I wanted to read more.  And so that’s the second lesson that this experience can teach you.  Yes, it’s worth it to learn the rules of query writing, but in the end, all that matters is that you hook the person reading the query.

So I suggest that anyone interested in getting a taste of what it might be like to go through the slushpile should go check out the 30C30D thread.  And then comment on the ones you like.  It gives you that request vs. reject feel.

Lots of love,

Sage

P.S. I assumed you knew what NaNoWriMo is because most people who would follow my blog would, but just in case, NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month, and is a crazy event where a bunch of authors try to write a 50K or more novel in 30 days.  There’s a link above if you want to check it out.

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