When one is having an extremely busy day in which the e-mails are just pouring in, one does not generally expect that a telephone pole outside one’s building will catch on fire, shutting down power for the day. Well, that happened to one ME today. I’m now working from home for the rest of the afternoon, which, trust me, sounds way more awesome than it is.
(Actually it’s kind of awesome. I have a laptop and it’s 65 degrees outside. You do the math.)
Anyway, this post is going to be brief because of the aforementioned busy day, but I’m getting a bazillion queries lately and I’ve noticed something kind of interesting about the way different people characterize their accomplishments in query letters.
Put on your agent hat for a moment. Which of these two authors would you be more interested in signing:
Author A has published six books, published numerous articles, and is a an award winning author…. only after some digging you find out the six books were published by a very small press with a sketchy website, the articles were published on the author’s blogs, and the award was Citizen of the Year from Nowheresville, Indiana.
Author B has published several works from small presses, has a killer idea for a new novel, and is ready to make the leap to a major publisher. After some digging, this is all turns out to be true.
So who would you choose? Author B, right? Trick question: THEY’RE THE SAME AUTHOR. Also I made them both up. This blog gets trickier and trickier.
Anyway, the moral of this bizarro example is that it is much better to be completely honest about your accomplishments but pitch yourself as being on the rise than it is to try and blow up your accomplishments into something they’re not. Agents do not like it when authors try and fool them, and we can smell a turkey sale a mile away.
On the flipside, though, don’t undersell yourself either. Don’t apologize for a lack of writing credits — don’t fake them, but just make sure you have a great story and you’re confident about it. If you do, an agent will come calling. Assuming their telephone pole isn’t on fire.