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    MsJacquiiC Poetica Magnifique

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2006
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    Every day of the week, I sift through hundreds of emails. First, I delete all the fabulous opportunities to invest in the Ivory Coast, quit smoking, improve my sex drive, and correct mysterious eBay transactions from buyers of items I never placed for sale.

    After twenty-five letters reading "My name is... I have written...Please consider..." you no longer read. You open the envelope, scan the first line, then sort, trash or reject.
    Second[/url], I search for the wonderful feedback from readers. Then I search for communication from editors. Then comes the research. Each day I read huge volumes of mail about contests, the writing world, grants, business practices, and the government's ever hilarious attempt at running the country. I keep my fingers in a lot of pies.

    I am a fast reader. Maybe not a speed reader, but almost. I can absorb a lot of information in a timely manner. Part of this talent is due to an ability to scan.

    Scanning is an art. I allow my eyes to drift over text in hopes that sharp phrases, key words, and creative formatting will feed me information I can use. Editors and agents read queries much the same way.

    New writers, and most mid-range ones, do not take seriously the fact that each word has to matter in a query letter or book proposal. Imagine reading a hundred pages a day from eager writers and only being allowed to capture one or two for publication. Your baby-blues become instant scanners. Maybe a better comparison is to liken your eyes to a Google spider - one of those search agents that looks for keywords amongst the millions of web pages on the Web.

    A tall stack of papers sit before you. You pick up the first one. "My name is... I have written...Please consider me for...Thank you for your consideration..." You toss it in a pile, maybe the trash, maybe paperclip a form refusal to it. If a story is attached, it's thrown away so that the postage doesn't cost so much to reject the writer.

    After twenty-five letters reading "My name is... I have written...Please consider..." you no longer read. You open the envelope, scan the first line, then sort, trash or reject.

    Suddenly, you pick up a query that opens with "Guts on the pavement sent the kids scattering, screaming for their mothers and calling for help." The eyes stop. The brain engages. The editor reads on to paragraph two.

    Another query reads "Four hundred students applied for the scholarship. Only one had the savvy to speak on such a taboo subject, knowing that her choice could capture or kill cold dead her educational future."

    Editors are calloused. They get bombarded with mediocre writing every single day. You'd go nuts in their shoes! Stark raving mad! You'd give your first born to find writing that delivered a message, arrested the reader, just made a valid, logical point.

    When you submit your work, submit it thinking that yours will be the 479th letter an editor reads. What words in your query will snatch the attention of tired editorial eyes?

    Also, consider that an editorial assistant will screen before the editor receives your work. Since the assistant is less-experienced, what spark of creativity will make her set your piece aside for further review by the editor?

    When submitting an article, query or proposal, develop a mindset to improve your chances:

    1. What one line contains your WOW factor that puts brakes on tired eyes?
    2. Will your words read well to both the educated and the uneducated?
    3. What's most important...your name, your experience, the title, the word count, the story or the one-liner that will nail a contract? Prioritize the list and write your query letter from most important to the least.
    Think worst-case scenario. The editor picks up your letter at the end of a hellacious day. She has a headache and has ten more queries to read before she can go to dinner with her hot fiance then go home to a bubble bath and a glass of wine. What did you write that is going to make her sit up, notice and forget about her plans?

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    Posted By MsJacquiiC | Oct 27, 2007

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