IT DEPENDS... by Maree Anderson (for Writers Gone Wild)
I subscribe to various agent blogs and I've often seen posts advising on what to do and what not to do with queries.
For example, a pet hate of some agents is a query that starts with a question:
What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and found a vampire sitting on the end of your bed, watching you?
"Scream and then stake his ass. Duh! *eye roll* Now where did I put that form rejection letter?"
Another no-no is to compare your writing to some famous author or another. It's evidently considered a wee tad arrogant:
In the spirit of authors such as Stephenie Meyers, James Patterson and J.K Rowling, my completed manuscript XXX is blah blah blah.
"Oh really. Delusional, much? Now where did I put that form rejection?"
The same goes for trying to hook an agent's attention by comparing your manuscript to popular movies:
My completed futuristic romance XXX is The Thomas Crown Affair versus Transformers, with a soupçon of Silence of the Lambs.
"You have got to be kidding me. I hated Silence of the Lambs--had nightmares for a month! Now where did I put that form rejection?"
"I have no freaking idea what this manuscript is about. Duh, I haven't seen any of these movies! Now where did I put that form rejection?"
Okay, so I'm poking fun a little bit, but I'm sure you get the picture. And to me, the picture makes a lot of sense. Why give an agent any more reasons to say "thanks, but no thanks"?
However, at our recent RWNZ conference, one of our guest editors debunked the last two no-nos. She said that she appreciated these sort of comparisons in a query. It's the kind of information she needs to be able to pitch a manuscript--give those who have the final veto an immediate sense of what the manuscript's about, and how it might be marketed.
And for me, that makes a lot of sense, too. Especially after reading Rachelle Gardner's Behind the Scenes at a Pub Committee Meeting blog post. A real eye-opener!
So I guess the answer to whether or not to make this sort of thing a pivotal part of your query is: It depends.... on the editor. Or the agent.
Probably the best thing you can do is hope whomever you're querying has a blog, so you can check it out and do your best to avoid their pet dislikes.
How do you feel about querying an editor and comparing yourself to a well-known author?
What about coming up with some clever movie or tv series mash-up to describe the essence or high concept of your story?
Mmmm. I wouldn't know where to start if I tried to compare myself to any well-known author, but that last one sure is fun to do.
"SUPER-FREAK is Terminator, The Sarah Connor Chronicles vs Beverly Hills, 90210."
Just kidding. Kinda. ;-)
BTW, feel free to share your high concept mash-ups.