Now last week’s contest highlighted the weird, crazy stuff that people sometimes do with their query letters.  But really, most of the time, the biggest problem with query letters is that they don’t do their stories justice.  When pitching the story to the editor/agent, the author does not present it in the most flattering light.  As an illustration, I will use my own book that’s now out, Missing or you can also get a physical book, here. (I don’t know why the two aren’t linked.)

First I’ll tell you (in one sentence) what the general idea is, and then I’ll pitch it poorly.  Finally, I’ll pitch it correctly.  You’ll see the difference.

Idea: After her brother’s disappearance, teenage Liz finally addresses the intense sibling rivalry and hatred she has harbored towards her brother and dedicates her life to finding him.

Bad Pitch:
In my early chapter book for young kids, Liv gets really upset after her brother goes missing after a boring field party.  He’s been kidnapped, but Liv doesn’t know by who, and she spends the rest of the book looking for him and feeling guilty for hating him for most of their lives. Also, Morte is a creepy looking kid that Liv thinks is somehow linked to death even though she doesn’t have any proof for this.  The book is a mystery and kind of paranormal and a great thriller for kids to read.  I can’t wait for you to see the full manuscript.

Good Pitch:
Like their names, Liv and her brother, Morte, have always been polar opposites.  Neither can tolerate the others presence, and they spend most of their time fighting. Liv hates her brother and would give anything to just make him go away.  All of that changes, though, the day after her brother goes missing after a boring typical, field party.  Liv begins to face the sibling rivalry she and her brother have always shared and does everything she can think of to try to find him.  A mystery with a paranormal twist to the end, Missing is at its heart Liv’s quest to know both herself and the brother she has spent her entire life pushing away.

Which book would you rather read?

© Copyright 2006-2011 Madeline Smoot. All rights reserved.
May be excerpted and duplicated for educational purposes.
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