Calling All Thriller Writers: Freakonomics has a few suggestions

Just when you thought the world of podcasts couldn’t get any better, you end up listening to an episode that connects two seemingly disparate parts of your life and you just sit and thank your lucky stars that you live in an age where you can get so much information so easily!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACase in point, the latest podcast from Freakonomics: How to Create Suspense.  Leave it to economists to make our writing even better.

So, if you’re plotting (in the true literary sense, that is, and not the, shall we say, life-imitates-literary-hijinks sense) or just a fan of how data makes our lives better, then check it out.  And, just to keep you in suspense, I’ll leave it at that.

Important Themes from PitchtoPub #10queries

So, if you are like many of us in the aspiring-writer universe, you’ve probably been following the #PitchtoPublication twitter feed with such alacrity that you’re now tempted to self-diagnose yourself with carpal tunnel and obsessive personality disorder.  Totally understandable, especially given all of the precious tidbits of feedback the participating editors have been offering in their #10queries based on their #PitchtoPublication submissions.  If you haven’t been able to keep up with all of them, or are just looking for a slightly distilled version, here are the thematic tips I’ve taken away from this buffet of invaluable advice.

1) Comps, comps, comps!  It is incredibly important to have up-to-date (i.e., published in the last 5 years) titles listed in your query as comparisons for the manuscript you are trying to publish.  This helps agents note the marketability of your manuscript along with knowing more about your manuscript’s tone, style, and plot than you have time to address in your query.  Feel free to use combos of manuscripts, since you don’t want to reproduce a previously published work.  Ex: Maze-Runner meets Percy Jackson.

2) Don’t start you query with “Imagine a world. . .”  Apparently, this is a cliche of a cliche of a cliche.  Auto-reject for some agents, even.

3) Make sure your pronoun use is clear.  Use names when you can instead of pronouns.

4) Make it clear how your book is unique.  I know, I just mentioned comparable titles in #1.  This is why queries are hard to write.  Lots to do in very few words.  If you don’t make the case for how your story is unique and contributes something special, it’ll be a pass for most/all agents.

5) Be aware of preferred word-count ranges for your genre.  Don’t be too under or too over.  For guidelines, check out Literary Rejections.

Want to review the #10queries from PitchtoPublication for yourself?  Check out these prolific editors for a start. . .

@RFaithEditorial

@LindsaySchlegel

@LaraEdits

@kateangelella

@katiemccoach