Tag: query

The False Choice-authortoolbox

The False Choice-authortoolbox

Query letter hooks often end with a choice, some decision the main character must make, but when the relationship between the two isn’t clear, the reader is presented with a false choice

Matching voice in query and sample pages

Matching voice in query and sample pages

How to match the voice in your query hook to your opening pages.

Query Swap Blog Tour

Query Swap Blog Tour

Query Swap needs your help

The first #QuerySwap was a small, but successful, event. This time, I want to reach more writers with this opportunity, but I need your help. If you have a blog (even if the readership is small) I would like to add you to the blog tour leading up to the next query swap.

What is #QuerySwap?

Query Swap is a biannual Twitter event. Writers who want to participate in feedback exchanges on their queries can meet during this Twitter event to meet, pitch, and connect with other like-minded writers. (For complete details see the full Query Swap post.)

How can I help?

All you need to do is

  1. Post on your blog about #QuerySwap. I will provide all the information. You can simply cut and paste, or tweak it as much as you need to match the format and tone of your blog.
  2. On your assigned day, publish the post
  3. Share on social media.

That’s it.

I will subscribe to the comments on your blog and handle any questions.

You also don’t need to participate in the #queryswap event. If you are a blogger, I will be happy to add you to the list.

Ready to help? Send me an email with the subject queryswap to michelekellerauthor(at)gmail.com. Include your blog address and twitter handle (if applicable.)

Details will be sent out December 1.

Thank you!

Query Swap

Query Swap

Mark your Calendars. #QuerySwap is coming June 1, 2017

Pitch Contests: why you should get picky

Pitch Contests: why you should get picky

Is Twitter really the best place to pitch your book? Before you enter a contest make sure you actually want to win.

Writing Logical Pitches

Writing Logical Pitches

 Whether on Twitter, blog contests, or in a query, effective pitches must tell a logical story

I shred tons of pitches. Most of them fall into four categories: too vague, genre confusion, no voice, and logic problems. There are plenty of great articles about writing pitches so if you’re just starting out take the opportunity to read a few. My favorite is Laura Edits. There’s lots of information there, so take your time.

This particular pitch caught my interest because it followed the standard advice, (details have been altered to protect the innocent.) but produced some strange results:

Businessman Dean finally makes Forbes 500, then he gets cursed with a life draining monster. Now he must set a young gang member on the right path before he bombs half the city.

Make sure all the elements of your pitch have an obvious connection

How do these four elements connect? A businessman, a curse, a teen gang member, and bombings. What is the monster’s connection to the businessman? How do the two of them connect to the teen gang member? And how does stopping the bombings make the monster go away?

Right now it seems random.

It has the formula: x must do Y or consequences, but I’m unable to connect the dots.

While a pitch is limited in space, it must still tell a cohesive story

Consider instead:

When a business tycoon’s latest venture accidentally unleashes a life-sucking demon…

Now we see that Dean has actively caused this problem. It doesn’t just pop out of nowhere.


When a rival entrepreneur curses Dean with a succubus…

The second example shows the beginning of a conflict, and therefore the reason for the curse. It’s also improved because the monster/curse is named. This, of course, only works if the monster in the story is one that’s known. If it’s unique to your story, it will only confuse matters.

The second question raised in the original pitch is: how does doing a good deed make the monster go away? This implies that a fifth unnamed party (my suspicions float to either divine or clerical) has given Dean the answer.

Consider instead:

his desperation for a cure sends him to a local witch who has a demand of her own…


his only clue is a cryptic note from a teen gang member…

Now we see why he thinks befriending the teen will cure his problem. Without this piece of information, we have no way to connect the two ideas together. The idea that just doing one good deed will fix what ails you isn’t believable. Make sure we see cause and effect.

Now for the consequences.

In the original, we have the consequences of dying with the complication of mass murder. These are both fine, but I think there may be room to add some characterization. Dean is presented with a situation “do this or die.” Since very few people would choose the “or die” option, there is little to entice the reader further. Instead, try to make the consequences more specific to Dean. Give him a reason to struggle with the decision. Since Dean is a businessman, we could threaten more than his life, we can threaten his character.

Tailor consequences to your character, threaten what they* love.

Consider instead:

but saving his life means forsaking his business to befriend a teen gang member with plans for mass murder.

Having death for the stakes does little to distinguish your MS, but adding a little extra element to personalize it to Dean gives us a glimpse into what he really holds dear.

Let’s put it all together:

As a query hook:
Days before his company’s IPO, Dean’s rival congratulates him with a gift-wrapped Succubus. Now the only thing draining faster than Dean’s life is his bank account as he puts every paranormalist in the city on his payroll. Unfortunately, his best investment for a cure turns out to be a mystical teen gang member with an unhealthy bomb obsession.

35-word pitch
When Dean makes Forbes 500, his rival sends him a congratulatory Succubus. Desperate for a cure, Dean’s bank account’s now draining faster than his life. His best investment: a teen gang member obsessed with bombs.

As a Twitter pitch
When Dean’s business rival curses him with a Succubus, he’s suddenly faced with a problem $ can’t cure. THINNER + SCROOGE

The formula is a great stepping off point, but you are pitching a story. Make sure your pitch tells a cohesive one.

Update: 2/4/2016

One of my pitches has been cited by a publisher as one that worked. What is interesting to note is that this pitch was the least favorite among my CP’s. But I loved it, and I trusted my judgment. Read the article and decide for yourself.

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Getting an agent: Query: Bio

Getting an agent: Query: Bio

Lesson from the first rejection.