Using Your Foreword as a Selling Point in Queries

There are many ways you can sabotage your query letter – of which I have blabbered about for the past fourteen years (gah! Has it been that long?). But I encountered a new one today; pushing the bio of the person who wrote your Foreword.

Huh?

What concerns me is that authors are putting their focus in all the wrong places. Don’t get me wrong, forewords are lovely things if you can get one from someone noteable in your subject matter. And yes, it’s equally lovely to put that noteable name on the front cover, and any publisher worth their salt capitalize on it.

But to push this while trying to sell your manuscript to an editor is premature, because it gives the appearance that the foreword is the reason I should be interested. It isn’t. The first order of business is selling yourself and your work.

More worrisome is the foreword author who is only known on a small regional basis. This isn’t going to wow me, so you’ve wasted precious query-letter space pimping someone few know.

This is not a selling point.

Your story needs to stand on its own. It shouldn’t need props and puffery. Keep it simple, keep it real.

2 Responses to Using Your Foreword as a Selling Point in Queries

  1. Hey, Lynn … I hope you won’t mind if I ask a somewhat off-topic question here. I’m in the final throes of writing a novel that I plan to be the first in a series. It’s light fiction, I hope a fun read, although it touches on some heavy topics (specifically, dog rescue, which isn’t always fun and can lead in some grungy directions). It’s not a memoir or non-fiction, although it’s based heavily on my personal experiences and stories about dogs I’ve known, which is why I’m not pitching it to you … Really I’d just appreciate some free advice. If you’ve already covered this in a post, please point me in the right direction.

    I’m attending the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference in July, mainly because that gives me an opportunity to pitch to around 12 agents and editors who are specifically interested in general/women’s fiction. (I know there are other benefits to going to major conferences and I plan to take full advantage … but it’s expensive to me, and as such I have to treat it as an investment in my writerly future.)

    Each pitch is limited to four minutes, and the agents and editors are each probably going to be talking to at least 100 authors. How do I make myself (and my book) stand out? Should I go armed with a query letter? Chapters? Cookies? Do you have any tips on what to do and not do in a very brief pitch? I’d be really grateful for any advice you can offer!

  2. Jim Misko says:

    So right, Lynn. One page, clean three paragraphs and be done with it.

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