Do You Know What You are Writing?


This was our letter from the editor in the August issue of Suspense Magazine: What the hell is your book about?

The reason I ask that question is that too many times we receive emails, queries, and requests from authors and publicists sending over a synopsis of their book.

Editor’s Advice
Here is the deal coming from an editor: “Don’t tease us, we don’t like it. Let us know in your query the beginning, middle, and end of your book. Let the editor decide from that point whether or not we want to read the book.”

This is the same for any type of marketing you are doing to blog sites, radio shows, etc. Suspense Magazine receives over three thousand books each year and thousands of short stories. We have to be picky about who we review because we simply can’t read all those books.

what you are writingHere is an example of the type of email I don’t want to receive: “I’m letting you know about my book in which the killer goes around killing people and the main character has a connection with the killer, but they don’t know each other until you reach the exciting ending when everything will be revealed.”

This is not a real email I got from someone, but you get the idea. Let the reviewer know how the book is going to end, etc. Reviewers are NOT customers for your books. They are not going to Barnes and Noble or Amazon and purchase books. Therefore don’t give them the synopsis that would be written on the back of the book.

Your query letter can be a page, but let us know what we will be getting into. Believe me, I’ve heard it all before. When I normally get an email that is not descriptive of the book and what you are writing, by breaking down the main character, throwing in some emotion, who is the killer, etc, more than likely it will not get a response and certainly not be read.

Reviewers are people that you need to help sell your book, and most of them get so many books they can’t possibly read them all and most review books for free. In fact, if you have to pay a fee for a review, run away! There are way too many independent sites and readers out there that would love to read your book and review it for free, so never pay for a review.

However, you need to know that reviewers are much like an agent or publisher. If you write a query letter that doesn’t explain your book from beginning to end to an agent or publisher, you won’t get a nice letter back. Now you might ask, ‘what about another author? How would I approach them?’ Again, other authors are NOT your customers; they are people that can help you sell books, so you need to treat them like a business partner in your writing. Let them know what your book is about, don’t keep them in the dark with it, believe me, they have heard it all before also.

The important lesson to be learned is to know who you are writing to. If you are doing an interview, tease the audience, but if you want a review leave the teasers off the page. The biggest question you need to ask yourself is “What the hell is my book about?” If you can answer that question, put it on paper and get yourself some people to review your book and start selling more books. Good luck and if you have questions or comments, email me. Now go…write!

John Raab
Suspense Magazine

1 Comment
  1. Avatar of Elizabeth Lang
    Elizabeth Lang says

    Excellent insight and advice. Thanks!

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