Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Meet the Great White Agent, Janet Reid

Hey everyone, I had the pleasure – yes, I will repeat – pleasure of interviewing the ultimate sharktress, Janet Reid of Query Shark, yesterday for my new radio program, The Writers Radio Resource.

I am happy to report that I am still here, all limbs attached. Reid's bark isn’t all that bad either, even if she does maul queries.

According to Reid, she tears apart our queries for our own good. And she said so without an ounce of snarkiness (sharkiness?). The fact of the matter is, how else are we going to learn to write queries? Reid shared that publishers and agents used to do aspiring authors a serious disservice by demanding that they know how to write the perfect query without giving them any of the tools as to how to do so.

That’s like demanding someone become a virtuoso piano player without lessons. Impossible, right? Luckily we now have Query Shark.

The idea of Query Shark is not to mock the attempts of aspiring writers to pen queries, but to show how not to write queries through example. You can lecture writers all you want as to how to write a query, but if you can’t give any examples, how does one expect writers to learn?

Enter Query Shark.

So how does a writer write the perfect query. I queried Reid.

“It needs to entice me,” said Reid.

Okay, so what does that mean?

One tip Reid shared was to include at the top:

Who is/are the main character/central characters?

What’s the setup?

What are the stakes?

The higher the stakes, the better the story, people. If you want to learn how to raise the stakes in your story, you can read my blog post dedicated to the subject.

Sounds simple, right?

Not necessarily, says Reid. "Like anything simple, this is hard."

Oh, and don’t brag about how your book is the best book ever written. Your work will speak for itself

Reid also added that, as a fiction writer, it doesn’t make a difference if you have a big social media following.

“Writers who spend all their time on social media aren’t writing,” says Reid.

I don’t totally agree with that. You can’t spend all your time on social networking, but a little is fine. I don’t think it hurts to arrive on an agent’s doorstep with just a bit of a built-in following.

But what do I know?

I guess what Reid is saying in a nutshell is, if the book's good, she can sell it, regardless of how many friends you have on Facebook. Besides, it’s got to be more than just your grandma and all your nephews and nieces who are going to buy your book anyhow.

I’ll let you know when I have the entire interview posted.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, you interviewed the shark and came away with all your fins intact. Yep, she's an aspiring novelists best friend when it comes to queries (and other advice).