Monday, December 30, 2013

How to Email Query By Roni Adams

Originally posted in the TWRP Greenhouse

Submissions: How to Email Query By Roni Adams

In this age of email and instant access to editors and agents, should your email query letter be as formal as one sent through postal mail?

Of course it should. Even though email is a more informal means of communication, your first representation of yourself and your work should always be completely professional. A query letter doesn't have to follow the same format as a written letter, like we learned in high school business class. You don't need to provide an inside address, a proscribed number of spaces, the date and a formal salutation and closing, but the letter should contain formal attributes.

Email Address should reflect you as a serious writer

To back up one step, one of the most important things in an email query should be your own email address. Is it professional? Does it reflect your writing career, such as or is it something like Which one sounds like a serious writer working towards publication? An email address should be an extension and should include your pen name, if you have one. Another thing my email demonstrates is that I have a web site where they can go to discover more about me.

Do you need a web site? That's another whole discussion, but if you have one, you should definitely advertise the fact by using that email when querying or in any correspondence with editors or agents. If you don't have one, you do need to get an email that's professional. Either with your given name or your pen name.

Okay, so now you have a professional email address. Do you have the name of the editor you are querying? If you do, then you should certainly address that person by name in the email the same as in a regular letter:

Dear Ms. Jones.

If you don't know the editor's name or you are querying a general email submission box such as then no salutation is needed. For some, the greeting, "Dear Editor" is too generic. Choose to start your query like: "After reading your submission guidelines, I would like to submit the following to your erotic romance line." Then a space or two and then the next line: "My story is about two actors caught in a timewarp on an old west stage. The two loves wind up in a series of…" You get the idea. Make your query only a few paragraphs, hit the highlights of your story the same as you would in a printed query letter.

In the final paragraph say something to the effect of, "I have included my synopsis following this query letter. I look forward to hearing from you soon." Close the note with a formal signature and your contact information, including snail mail address. I always add my phone number. The last thing you want is an editor who would like to request your story but can't find you.

The Synopsis

After your contact info, make three *** to indicate a break between the query and the synopsis. Start with the title of your book, the page or word length, and then, if appropriate, which line in the publishing house you are targeting. For example:

"To Love and Lose"
55K words
Champagne Rose Line
No attachments, unless requested

One of the most important things when emailing an editor is to never, never, never attach anything unless you have been invited to do so. In this day of virus and SPAMS, editors have been instructed by their IT departments to never open attachments they aren't familiar with and to delete them without reading.

Brief Synopsis

Keep your synopsis brief. Make it appeal to the editor and generate interest. Your goal is the same as it is in a snail mail query; you want that editor to respond positively and ask for more.

Once you have that editor's email, you may be tempted to simply shoot them a note and ask them if they received your query. Editors are very busy people. They receive hundreds of emails weekly, sometimes daily. Most will send an email verifying receipt of your query and will be in touch after their review. Sending your email with the "return receipt" button turned on is generally acceptable.

When to Inquire

So you know your query was received and several weeks have passed. How long do you wait before contacting the editor and asking for a status update? The worst thing you can do is email an editor a week after you've sent your submission. Just because email is instant and quick doesn't mean the reading or reviewing of email is any faster than reading a printed letter. Give the editor time to do his/her job.

How to Inquire

So how long do you wait? The same as you would a snail mail submission. First refer to the publisher's submission guidelines. Is a timeframe stated? Some houses request no additional contact for at least six months, etc. If no details are given, use the guideline of three months. Again, be professional. Do not become a pest to this editor and be tagged as such. Your follow-up should be short and to the point. Something along the line of:

"On February 1, 2007 I emailed a submission for my story, "On Bended Knee." I am following up to see if I can provide additional information on this story. I am still very interested in your opinion of this time travel western, and I look forward to hearing from you at your convenience."

That's it. Again, give your contact info, etc. Remember, the fact email is friendly and informal doesn't mean you have that type of relationship with this editor. Even if you've met at a conference, had lunch or exchange greetings in the ladies room, do not assume they will remember you. Keep things professional, and you will begin what is hopefully a healthy business relationship on the right foot.


Reprinted with permission from

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Synopsis That Gets Noticed

Originally posted in the TWRP greenhouse.

The Synopsis: A Synopsis That Gets Noticed

Your synopsis can be a winner if you follow these tips:

1. The synopsis tells the entire story. Make sure it has a beginning, middle and end.

2. Don't give your synopsis a hook ending like "for the rest of the story read..." The editor won't read the book if she doesn't know that the ending is satisfactory. You need to give her all the facts.

3. Your synopsis must be written well. It must have proper margins, spacing and fonts. If your synopsis is difficult to read because the type is too small, the editor will not read it. Make sure the synopsis is grammatically correct and that there are no typos. Use strong, evocative language.

4. If this is a synopsis for a romance, you need to focus on the romance. You need to make sure the reader understands why this hero is so important to this heroine or why this particular heroine is the perfect mate for your hero. It's a lot more than saying he's a rich, single bachelor. Keep in mind things like "soul mate", and why this man has remained single all this time until he meets "her". You need to show the changing and developing relationship between the hero and heroine in the synopsis.

5. Marketing Hooks. If your story contains some of the tried and true like, marriage of convenience, secret baby or cowboys - get that in there. Make sure that stands out. If you think your story has something less attractive (suppose your hero is an ex con or a football star) keep that low key, write your synopsis around that so you downplay it. It might work great in the actual manuscript but could scare an editor if she/her thought it wouldn't work.

6. You need to know your characters and get that across to your readers. You need to know their motivation and their goals. You need to get that in the synopsis without giving too many details. Not an easy task! Your synopsis should be straightforward, not much room for backstory.

7. Make sure the tone is appropriate to your story. If you're writing romantic comedy, your synopsis needs to contain humor; a romantic suspense story synopsis needs to be filled with intrigue, etc.

8. A synopsis is one of the hardest things you'll ever write, but it will make writing your novel easier because it’s your guide to what happens. You will know what's going to happen and where your characters will end up. Even writers who write the book first and then the synopsis, always have a synopsis even if it’s in their heads.

9. Can the actual manuscript ever change from the synopsis? Yes and no. Not in a major way but certainly in some smaller not as important events. If you think your change will make the story stronger, you need to do it no matter what is in the synopsis, but then go back and rework it so when you send it to the next editor, it’s true to the story.

10. The standard length of a synopsis for a category length romance novel is 2 pages single spaced or 5 double. Some historical or regencies novels allow a 10 page synopsis. For a short story you wouldn't do a synopsis at all.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bringing in the Senses By Beverly Oz

Originally Published in the TWRP Greenhouse

Sensory Detail: Bringing in the Senses By Beverly Oz

Ever run across the sweet, heady smell of honeysuckle while driving in the country? Can you close your eyes and visualize the vibrant reds and pinks of a sunset, or the pale greens of a newly budded tree? Can you imagine the brush of a feather against the backside of your knee? When you think about licking a freshly cut lemon and allowing its tangy juice to linger on your tongue, does your mouth water? Does the sound of honking of horns and screeching of tires make you cringe?

Can you smell it?

Can you taste it?

Can you hear it?

Can you see it?

Now think about what you've just read and how those words affected your senses? Did you smell the honeysuckle? See the reds, oranges, and greens? How about that lemon? Could you almost taste it?
Sensory Response

The human mind reacts to sensory suggestions, even suggestions taken in through written words. After a person experiences a sound, touch, taste, etc., the mere mention of the experienced sense can quickly evoke a sensory response.

For a writer, like myself, this is powerful information. Why? Because I know I can control what my readers see, smell, taste, hear, and feel simply by choosing one word over another. For example, consider the impact of changing just a few words in the following sentence.

Can you feel it?

I rubbed my hand against the furry softness of the cashmere sweater.

I rubbed my hand against the slick, almost wet, skin of the snake.

I opened the door and was nearly knocked down by the oppressive heat and humidity.

I opened the door and was nearly knocked down by the frigid north wind.

When I write, I carefully sprinkle in sensory words to achieve greater reader involvement. I want the readers to experience what my heroines and heroes experience and become immersed in my story. If I can coax the people who buy my books to completely lose themselves in my books' make- believe worlds, maybe they'll come back for more.


Reprinted with permission from