Adrienne Kerr is the senior editor for commercial fiction at Penguin . She’s worked in various book-oriented occupations for seventeen years (gosh, she must have started as a kid).
Adrienne ran the session alone and we had a fabulous time.
Here are my notes:
- Everyone has to hustle.
- Harness your enthusiasm.
- Craft your query as carefully as you craft your novel.
- Find out what your target agent or editor has sold or acquired recently.
- Writers have the power. Act like it.
- Start with your bookshelves. Pick out your favourite books. Look at the acknowledgements. Authors always thank their agents and editors.
- Next, go to your library or bookstore and do the same thing.
- Then go on line. Look at the agencies. Look at the submission guidelines. Anything less than 100% compliance is a waste of everyone’s time.
- Be open to the process; be delightful to work with.
- Editors are hidden. They’re not on-line. Traditionally, they don’t take unsolicited submissions. Now, they’re taking a more active role in ferreting out new talent.
- Check out logline attached. ’ Marketplace. Search through 14 years worth of deals. Each entry has a
Loglines – you need one
- What if – so what formula
25 words or less. Convey major conflict.
Answers so what.
It’s X meets Y.
Mash-up of famous books and/or movies.
- Save the Cat method
A sentence or two, ironic, compelling, genre/audience-targeted, killer title.
Who/what the hero wants and why.
Focus on conflict.
- Comps must be realistic. Consider the sales numbers and the social media imprint.
- Indicate your job only if pertinent (e.g. a lawyer who writes legal thrillers).
- Agents will use your query/logline/synopsis to sell.
- Editors will use your query/logline/synopsis for marketing.
- You will use it when someone asks what your book is about.
The rest of the session was spent critiquing loglines and queries volunteered from the attendees. I was still working on mine and didn’t speak up, but there were some pretty interesting projects pitched and some effective improvements were crowd-sourced.
I will be finishing off my SiWC posts one per day.
Until tomorrow, mes amis!