TwitterLit Advice Issue 3: What You Shouldn’t Put in Your Query

Victoria Loder, Agent with The Rights Factory recently started a new series of tweets called Things Not to Include in Your Query. It’s pretty informative and funny, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, please do.

That got me thinking: there must be a lot of #TwitterLit advice from agents, publishers, and the like about what things you shouldn’t put in your query.

There doesn’t seem to be a single popular hashtag that specifically addresses query dont’s. #querynonos and #querynono have both been used in the past. You can also search #querytip, #subtip, and #pubtip for general do’s and dont’s about querying.

Let’s get down to it. The list of what you shouldn’t put in your query is virtually endless, but here are the most common mistakes writers seem to be making:

 

Generalized openings:

 

Ignoring submission guidelines:

 

Bashing yourself or other writers, genres, agents, etc.

 

Pitching more than one book in a single query:

 

Lying

 

Rhetorical questions:

 

Missing Stakes:

TwitterLit Advice Issue 2: Prologues

To prologue or not prologue, that is the question.

 

Agents and editors don’t hate prologues, they hate BAD prologues. It’s hard to write a good prologue, one that doesn’t reveal too much, or feel like a bait and switch.

 

 

 

Ask yourself: is the prologue is really necessary? Too many potential good books are bogged down with prologues that take away from the excitement of the first chapter.

 

 

 

Sometimes, the prologue contains good information that simply belongs elsewhere.

 

If you are going to include a prologue, make sure it contains important plot information, stakes, and/or tension.

 

If you do have a prologue (hopefully a well written, necessary one), should you query with it?

 

Agents and editors all have their own preferences, but the majority seem to agree that a prologue should not be sent as a sample, but saved until later.

 

So, should you tighten/cut your prologue? Many writers report good results from cutting their prologue or, at least, keeping it short.

 

TwitterLit Advice Issue 1: Writing a Synopsis

If you’re a writer, #TwitterLit is the place to be! You can connect with authors, readers, agents, editors, and publishers, get all kinds of writing / editing / querying advice, participate in Twitter pitch parties, win books, critiques, and mentorships, and so much more.

If you’re not on Twitter, get on it. If you can’t, I’ll do my best to keep you in the loop with this #TwitterLit Advice series.

In each issue, I will focus on a specific aspect of writing, and share the best advice I can find from agents, editors, publishers, and published authors on Twitter. I’ll occasionally share advice from readers and unpublished authors when relevant to the topic.

Today, I’m going to to share Twitter advice about writing a synopsis. You don’t have to look far on Twitter to find writers struggling to write a synopsis:

 
About that last tweet: when we talk about a synopsis, we’re not talking about the 100 or so word blurb that goes in your query letter:

 
The query and the synopsis have different forms and functions:

 
A synopsis lays out the main plot points of your entire book, including how it ends:

 
Agents and editors need a synopsis to do their job. It’s a tool they use throughout the publishing process:

 
Your synopsis should be thorough, but focused:

 
Be concise, but be specific in your synopsis:

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Some agents will want you to send a synopsis even if they haven’t specifically asked for it, while others say only send it if they have.

 
Yes, sometimes #TwitterLit gives conflicting advice. What isn’t unclear: you should write a synopsis before you start querying, and you should always follow submission guidelines:

 
And never include a synopsis in place of a query:

 
Finally, a few miscellaneous synopsis writing tips: