Monday, October 15, 2012

{Book Tour} A Stiff Kiss by Avery Olive

On Query Writing
I’ve written a few query letters in my day and well, it seems this is one of those things that you can never have enough information on! I’m not an expert by any means, I don’t proclaim to be, but I can give you a few hints because I’ve written queries that have grabbed the attention of agents, publishers and even readers.
Now, for those of you who are staring blankly at me, wondering, what the heck a query letter is. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. I, too, was where you are when I first started out writing. And, I’ll be the first to admit, I was extremely naive when it came to how real publishing works!
So, in short, think of a query letter as a ONE PAGE back cover blurb. This is what you use, your ONE PAGE cover letter, so to speak, to grab the attention of an agent, a publisher or even an unsuspecting reader (many back cover blurbs stem from that of the query letter)
I repeat ONE PAGE and not one page in a small font size that needs to be zoomed in to be read. I’m talking, the entire thing, fitting on ONE standard sheet of 8 ½ X 11 paper in a READABLE (this is not the time to go fancy) font such as Time New Roman, Courier even Arial (some agents or publishers will tell you what font they want you to use) with a standard font size of 12pt.
Alright, moving on, in my opinion there are four major points to a query letter.
First we have the salutation. “Dear super awesome agent!” Take a few moments and do some research. You WILL want to direct your query to an agent by their NAME! If you are subbing to a publisher, you will want to look up NAMES, try, if at all possible, not to direct your query “Dear awesome acquisitions editor” Also, if your agent or editor is male—Use Mr. If you know, without a doubt in your mind, that the person you’d like to direct your query to is married, go ahead and use Mrs. If you have no clue, you don’t know if your agent is a twenty something gal or a slightly more mature older lady who may or may not be married, for safety, simply use Ms.
Second you have the body of your query. I honestly don’t like to waste time. I like to jump right in with both feet. You MAY if you choose have a line before the body where you CAN say to the super awesome agent that you met them at a conference, you interacted with them on twitter or are answering a call for submissions you saw on their website or blog. If you don’t have anything important to say in that one line, don’t say anything.
The body of your query should be a short, fast paced, wordy by not overly wordy description of your novel. It should be approximately 500 words. It will have an opening line that should grab the reader by their pants and yank them in to read your next paragraph. This should be the body of your novel but only focus on the super duper interesting and important parts! And the last paragraph should blow them out of the water. This needs to seal the deal.
When writing your body, there are usually a few questions that need to be answered. Actually, wait, they SHOULD be answered to make for a successful query letter.
What does your character want or what has happened to your character?
What does your character have to do to accomplish the above task or what has them motivated?
What happens if your character fails at accomplishing the task or what happens if they succeed?
These questions are loose, as in you’ll have to mold them slightly, depending on your story arc, but they need to be answered.
Thirdly the next small paragraph should be a line or two stating the book’s title, the word count, the genre and if important the sub genre. There is always a bit of uncertainty with whether or not this should be at the top of the query or at the bottom. I always put it at the bottom. I want the query to speak first. Not to mention there are sometimes guidelines that I tend to bend, say for instance, word count. Some agents or publishers want to see books with a certain word count—but you think the agent or publisher is a PERFECT fit for you and your work, why not try anyways? However, if you put your word count at the beginning and it’s under or over what the guideline states, well, you might get rejected and the agent didn’t even read the rest of the letter. However if you have a rocking query, they get to the bottom and they see the word count but the query might be all they’ve been looking for, well, you might find you have a request on your hands. Also, take this with a grain of salt and heed this advice, NOT ALL GUIDELINES CAN BE BROKEN—this would require another post, so simply use caution when bending or breaking requested guidelines.
Fourthly, a lot of times agents will ask for a SHORT bio or your writing credentials. If you have this in place and it is only a few lines, feel free to add it. If you don’t have credentials or they don’t ask for a bio, don’t worry, just leave this blank. But not all credentials are created equal, being a finalist in a major contest is a good one, previous publishing experience is good, but saying that your great grandmother read the novel on her death bed and loved every word is not a good thing to add. Seriously. Keep your query professional.
And lastly, your end salutation. This is where you state your name and include ALL your important information. Your phone number (some people still call, I know, it’s crazy, but they do) your email (not everyone likes to talk on the phone) your website or blog (some agents/publishers will Google you anyways, so, you might as well be upfront if you have one of these) and your address (believe it or not, snail mail is still an active form of communication)
Alright, sometimes it’s good to have things put into perspective. So, I’m opening the vault and pulling out the query letter that landed me a more than one contract offer for A Stiff Kiss.
Dear Ms. Super Awesome Agent;
Seventeen-year-old Xylia Morana is obsessed with death. This is the hook line. It gives you that sense of intrigue and wonder. She hangs out with the terminally ill, attends random funerals, and every so often, when the weathers right, she sleeps in open graves for entertainment.

When Xylia sneaks into the morgue to catch a glimpse of Landon Phoenix, the recently deceased high school hottie, she does the unthinkable and steals a kiss from the corpse. The last thing she expects is for Landon to wake up--but that’s exactly what happens. This is what happened to the character, giving the novel a reason to exist.

Xylia then does everything she can to avoid the soccer star turned medical miracle--because who wants to admit they kissed a stiff?--This is what is happening as a result of the above line in red. but Landon’s not about to let the girl who brought him back to life get away without some answers.
But Xylia’s main problem isn’t just the questions surrounding the life-reviving kiss she shared with Landon. This is part of what the character is trying to achieve. Knowledge. What Xylia doesn’t know is that Landon’s return has thrown life and death off balance. The underworld demands a body and it might just have to be Xylia’s this time. These are the stakes so to speak and what will happen if the character fails, death.

A STIFF KISS is a completed young adult paranormal novel of 58,000 words.

I would be delighted to send you sample chapters of A STIFF KISS, or the entire manuscript, at your request. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. Since at the time I didn’t really have a bio or credentials I didn’t put any, you will put them here, and if you’d like have a line like these as a closing to your query.

Sincerely,
Avery Olive
(Full Mailing Address)
(Full Phone Number)


Now, I’m sure even you can say, well, that’s not that good of a query. Of course, reading it now, many years later, I can see its flaws. But, it get’s the core premise of the novel out into the open and trust me, even three years ago, it did its job. A Stiff Kiss is a published book. Also, don’t worry if it takes you more than one draft to perfect a query. I think this was draft number ten, at least. Don’t send it out until you are comfortable with it (and your manuscript is polished and ready to go) and even then, expect to make a few tweaks. Send out your query letter in batches, if after a bit of time has passed and all you’ve gotten are rejections, it might be because of your query letter. It’s not doing its job, so, tweak it and try again.

I also said that query letters are like a back cover blurb and many back cover blurbs stem from the Authors original query letter. The blurb for A Stiff Kiss is no different. If you compare the two, you’ll see what’s been kept and what was taken out. They are quite similar and grab the attention of readers as it did grabbing the attention of publishers!

Also, this is a quick post on query letters. I won’t be surprised if you are still struggling with writing the perfect query letter. It’s hard. Even now, I still have troubles with it! There are things you can do take your knowledge one step further and help you on your journey.

Have you heard of Absolute Write? They are an amazing forum with a section solely on query letters, how to write them and even offer free critiquing.
The very talented Query Shark (I shiver when I hear or read that name and cower because she’d probably rip my query to shreds) offers monumental amounts of advice for polishing up the dreaded query letter.
You can also join and local writing group, find some critique partners and read EVERY back cover blurb you come across and familiarize yourself with the layout, what’s been said and how it’s been said.

And remember, don’t give too much away. If that’s something I can fix when it comes to the back cover blurb of A Stiff Kiss, I’d leave readers hanging just a little bit more!!



A Stiff Kiss
Avery Olive

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Crescent Moon Press

ISBN: 978-1-937254-33-9
ASIN: B0075M4KA2

Number of pages: 248
Word Count: Approx. 68,000

Cover Artist: Taria Reed




Book Description:
Who knew kissing a corpse would change everything?

Death always hits Xylia Morana too close to home, but she likes it that way. She hangs out with the terminally ill, attends random funerals, and every so often, when the weather is right, she sleeps in open graves.

But after Landon Phoenix, the high school hottie, dies in Xylia's arms, she sneaks into the morgue to say goodbye. How could she know stealing a kiss from his corpse would wake him up?

With Landon returned to the living and suddenly interested in Xylia, life has new meaning. But what Xylia doesn't realize is that by kissing Landon back to life, she's thrown Life and Death off balance. The underworld demands a body, and it might just have to be Xylia's this time.

Short Excerpt:
No way should I be in the morgue. If I'm caught, I'll lose my job. My dad will probably get fired, too. He's been warned to keep me out of here.
The walls are lined with thick, square doors, clearly marked with numbers. I stop in front of the one I want. In the middle of that wall, at waist height, is number twelve. Beyond the door, lying on a sliding metal table, is the body of Landon Phoenix.
I've always had a crush on Landon, ever since freshman year when his family moved to Silver Springs. I've watched him grow into his looks, no longer a gangly boy with braces. And I've longed to hear my name roll off his tongue in that deep voice of his. To press my lips against his as he holds me in a tight embrace. To share the same air as him.
Though now, all those things are impossible. Except one. I can pull open the door, slide the table out, and at least for a moment I can share the same air, even though his lungs can no longer pull in that air.
I hesitate, my hand on the handle. Besides my mother, this will be the only other person who's died that I've really known. The others have just been people, random ones at that. The guy from the grocery store who jumped off Whibley Bridge into the icy waters below, the occasional patient of mine who'd succumbed to old age, and many, many others. But this is personal. This is someone I'd known. Or at least, someone I'd held secretly in my heart.
But I need to say goodbye.
About the Author:
Avery Olive is proudly Canadian. She is married, and when she’s not helping raise her very energetic and inquisitive son, she can be found working on her latest novel-where she devilishly adds U's into every word she can.
When she is looking for a break Avery enjoys cake decorating, losing herself in a good book, or heading out to the lake to go camping.
The release of Avery's first novel proves to her it won't be the last. As long as her family continues to be supportive, she can find the time, and people want to read, Avery will keep on writing.
Avery Olive’s Blog : www.averyolive.blogspot.com



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1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for hosting me as part of the A Stiff Kiss Blog Tour!!!

    ReplyDelete

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