Query Info Dump

I got a question about queries and collaborations and figured that the response I put together might be of some interest to folks here. So, with all identifiers removed:

Start with the collaboration stuff:

An agent will deal with a two-author book in pretty much the same way they’d deal with single author book: Does the query make me want to read the material? If so, does the book make me want to represent this(these) client(s)? Then they’ll go from there.

My agent reps at least one pair of authors and I know others who do as well. The submission will look pretty much the same as it would if there were only one of you, with the exception that you’ll have two names in all the places where there would normally be one. Assuming that you get an agent and they find you a publisher for the book, you might end up under a pen name if the two of you and your agent and publisher decide that’s the best way to market the book, but that’s a ways down the road. Even in that case, your agent would submit it to editors under both names. Pen names really only come into things after a story or book has sold.

Personally, if it were me, I’d want to put the book out under both names for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that if you ever split your writing partnership up it makes it much easier for both of you to maintain writing careers going forward. Somewhere around here I have a link to some things to think about in terms of contracts for books written as collaborations for books sold before being written (which again would be some distance down the road from where you’re at now). If you’d like, I’ll see if I can’t dig it up. Let me know.

Now on to Queries:

Queries are tough. Part of the reason that you’re seeing a hundred different ways to write one is that there really is no standard way to do it. I can point you at a couple of great resources for queries and the plot synopses that go with book proposals. My friend Joshua Palmatier put together a couple of projects where authors in the field posted the query letters that got them their agents and the same with synopses. There’s more on the synopsis project including links to stuff I’ve written on the subject here.

Let me also point you at another set of useful resources. First, Kristin Nelson is a very smart agent who blogs, and she put up a bunch of really fantastic posts on querying and pitching. I’ve linked some of them here. And of course there’s info at the Wyrdsmiths blof. Most of wyrdsmiths writing posts up to about the middle of last year have been indexed by topic here. Also, I’ve put together a topical index of the Miss Snark agent blog which includes tons of good advice on the agent process. That’s here.

That’s all for now.

(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog April 15 2009, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)