Query letter talk by Jeff Kleinman

By Ramona Flightner/ @ramonaflightner

At the SF Writer’s Conference, I listened to a great talk by an agent, Jeff Kleinman, about query letters. Before I started investigating entering the publishing world, I had no idea how complicated it all can be. I had never imagined I needed to write a query, a synopsis, or master a pitch. I had thought writing a manuscript was the hard work! However, I have enjoyed, for the most part, the other aspects of trying to entice others to read my manuscript. The following is a quick summary of his talk, mainly with bullet points.

Query Letter talk by Jeff Kleinman, 7 pm, Thursday at the San Fran Writer’s Conf.

-need to think of a query letter like applying for a job

-There are 2 things that are needed

Premise: what is it? A brief description of book. A tagline. i.e: vampire meets

gone with the wind

Voice: want a viewpoint/ voice that is fresh, interesting, not seen before, he is

not  interested in an MFA voice

– recommends making a chart to keep a record of the queries you send out. Should use  the categories No Response/ Form Reject/ Minimal Response/ Personalized Response/ Request For More/ Represent

– says that the agents are providing feedback, just not the type of feedback you are used to and not in the way you are used to receiving it.

-advises you send out queries to 10 agents. When you are sending out queries, it will be clear who you are interested in working with.  Have a group of 3 sets of agents.

Group A= 1st tier, the group you really want to work with

Group B=  2nd tier you’d want to work with

Group C= 3rd tier

Recommends sending out 3-4 queries from each group, and wait for the responses. If all of the responses are no response or form reject, this is a very strong response.

-if a personalized no, either the premise is not there or the voice isn’t there. Generally it’s the voice.

– if someone asks for 3 chapters, means the writing is there

– asks for 50 pages, taking a chance

– 100+ pages- very interested.

The voice of the cover letter or the query reflects the voice of the piece.

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