I finally finished researching the 124 agents AgentQuery.com came up with as representing middle grade books and have made a list of close to 30 who I think will be a) great to work with based on their blog posts and interviews and b) could be interested in my book based on the books they represent. With those in a datebase, I just need to get the query letter and synopsis finished so I can start submitting.
I had a goal to have the query letter done by today, but when I started working on the letter again this morning, things weren’t going well. It has been a couple weeks since I spent those hours reading jacket flaps, and the rhythm of all the great ones I had found in the bookstore had left me.
I read all the jacket flaps of the books on my shelves, but still inspiration wasn’t really sparking. So, I started looking around online for a website that could somewhat replicate my experience in the bookstore. (Sitting in a bookstore pulling books off the shelves will always be better, but I didn’t have time for that before I started work.) I tried my usual, Amazon, but it only has reviews, which are fine, but I wanted the jacket flaps.
Then I clicked over to BarnesandNoble.com, and I was pleasantly surprised at the site’s seeming enormous appreciation for writers.
First, the jacket flap copy (or synopsis as the site calls it) was included on every book I looked at. That’s a fabulous tool for us query-letter-writing authors looking for inspiration.
But, the book information also included extensive — sometimes — information on the writer and, in some cases, videos. For James Rollins’ Jake Ransom and the Skull King’s Shadow, B&N has included a biography of Rollins as well as interviews and fun facts. Rollins’ first job was spinning pizzas!
The section for Rick Riordan’s The Last Olympians in the Percy Jackson series (of which I’m fan) offers up a video with Riordan, who expresses his love of reading during a lazy summer afternoon. I’m with ya, Rick!
Here’s something I thought was innovative marketing. On the section for the tenth book of D.J. McHale’s Pendragon series, The Soldiers of Halla, B&N is offering a free download of the first book. I immediately clicked for the download, because I haven’t tried this series yet. Unfortunately, my PDF downloaded corrupted, but I’ll try again.
I applaud B&N for their efforts on this site. Giving the reader all this information not only about the book, but also about the writer who created it, will help readers get more intimately involved in the stories. That will help bookstores, publishers and, of course, authors because it will help to build book fans.
Of course, that jacket flap copy helps us query-letter writers too. With a little reading, I manage to edit the query letter draft I had into something I’m pretty happy with — except one little thing that’s bothering me. Have to sleep on that one and see if I can improve it in the morning.
Kudos to you B&N. Thanks to the support you give writers, I will definitely support you more in the future.
What’s your favorite bookstore and why?
Thanks for this tip about the B&N site. This will be a help when I craft my query letter.
Yeah, I found it very helpful. But, sitting in an actual store pulling books off the shelf is even better if you have a few hours to spare.