This is a post I’ve meant to do for AGES. I’m sure I’ll come back and edit this post as I find new ways to write blurbs, but these are my favs… for now.
Helping someone else with their blurb or query is simple. Working one up for myself? Not as simple. There was a blissful point of ignorance when I thought that after I signed with an agent I wouldn’t have to write any more “query” type letters.
I was so very wrong.
My agent needs a blurb – sometimes I send her two so she can choose. My publisher often wants a different kind of blurb. I like to blurb my books before I write, or just as I’m starting. And the list goes on…
ANYWAY. These are my few favorite tools when trying to step away from my project far enough that I can blurb it in less words than it took to write the story 😉
1. NATHAN BRANSFORD’S QUERY MADLIB
I find this the most effective tool to get my brain OUT of my story.
Dear [Agent name],
I chose to submit to you because of your wonderful taste in [genre], and because you [personalized tidbit about agent].
[protagonist name] is a [description of protagonist] living in [setting]. But when [complicating incident], [protagonist name] must [protagonist’s quest] and [verb] [villain] in order to [protagonist’s goal].
[title] is a [word count] work of [genre]. I am the author of [author’s credits (optional)], and this is my first novel.
Now, some agents really like to have that TITLE. WORD COUNT. GENRE at the top – check the submission guidelines!
You can find the rest of Nathan’s post HERE.
2. Elana Johnson’s Query Outline:
Very often, I’ll work up Nathan’s first, and then jump into this or Shallee’s (below). After working through these, I generally have something worth showing. You can find Elana’s query stuffs, HERE.
3. SHALLEE’s query help:
Author Shallee McArthur uses a super simple tool to get started which is similar to Elana’s but also a little different:
You can find more about this method HERE.
4. For SPECULATIVE FICTION:
Yes, you can use this for contemporary, but I find that this one helps the author showcase tidbits about their world:
- Hint of plot
- Genre images
- MC Intro and characterization
- Idea of setting
- Hint of mystery
- Hyperbole (stakes)
For the full post on this method, you can go to The Creative Penn
And if you’re looking for query help, go to QUERY SHARK – for real. Read a ton of queries and you’ll see very quickly what works and what doesn’t.
No matter which method I use, I try to shoot for about 150-200 words – your short bio is not included in this word count.
Honestly, I’ve been in several conversation with agents where they say they read a line or two of the query and the first couple sentences of the MS. If they’re still interested, they’ll go back and read the whole query. That’s how much time you have to snag someone.
SO, you need queries for AGENTS, EDITORS, BOOK SELLERS/DISTRIBUTORS, and possibly for yourself if you’re like me and enjoy having your query written up as/before you write.
P.S. This blog post will be edited as time goes on…