Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Brady Bunch and Query Letters

I am far, let me say that again, FAR from an expert on query letters. In fact, I don't really understand them at all. How could someone say no to my fabulous book after reading two paragraphs about it? I understand that they couldn't possibly read everyone's book, so they're necessary, but I just don't, or rather, didn't get them.

I took a break from writing, homework, and life a couple days ago and wasted some time with the television, waiting for sleep to come. The Brady Bunch came on and there I am humming along with the tune when it hits me like a sledge hammer breaking ice in the cow's water tank. The Brady Bunch's lovely and slightly annoying song is exactly the same thing as a query letter. Take a look at the lyrics below:

Here's the story of a lovely lady 
Who was bringing up three very lovely girls. 
All of them had hair of gold, like their mother, 
The youngest one in curls. 

Here's the store, of a man named Brady, 
Who was busy with three boys of his own, 
They were four men, living all together, 
Yet they were all alone. 

Till the one day when the lady met this fellow 
And they knew it was much more than a hunch, 
That this group would somehow form a family. 
That's the way we all became the Brady Bunch. 
The Brady Bunch, 

That's the way we all became the Brady Bunch. 
The Brady Bunch.

If you put it all together and take out the repetitive parts, it would be about two paragraphs, like a query letter summary. It says what the story is about and it's short and sweet, while being detailed and interesting. Now, imagine the listener/viewer is a literary agent. Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't you want something that is short and sweet, while being detailed and interesting for your query letter?

This is possibly the most excited I've been about writing a query letter ever!! I finally understand them and how I can get this process to work with me. Query letters aren't bad, they're needed and I just need to write mine so it's irresistible and catchy. I want the idea to stick in the agent's head long after he/she reads it without being annoying. I want them to look at it, ask for a partial/full, and then check the mail every day for the next "episode." 

Anyone else having a " YES!! I get it" moment? Accompanied with fist pumps in the air and a goofy smile on your face?? Just me, ah, well...let me know what you think in the comments!!


Shannon O'Donnell said...

What a great connection - I would NEVER have thought of that! I've become such a regular visitor to your blog, Bethany, that I added you to my sidebar. :)

Hey...Valerie from Something to Write About and I thought maybe the three of us could give this critique group thing a try. Want to???

Stephanie said...

Nice comparison!!! Queries are awful to matter how much you think you understand them....reducing a 400 page novel to two paragraphs is exhausting!!!!

Anonymous said...

I loathe writing query letters. Haha..but I liked your comparison. Now I'll have that song stuck in my head all day. XD

Aubrie said...

That's a brilliant comparison and it does make writing the query letter more fun if you think of it that way.

Good luck with your two paragraphs!

V. S said...

What a comparison! I was smiling the whole time while reading this post. You have cracked the query code (applauds)!

Gorges Smythe said...

Every upbeat crowd needs a prophet of doom, so I'll apply for the job today. I just wanted to tell you that I once read a remark by a writer who said that you generally won't get your first book published until you've gotten enough rejections to paper the ceiling and all the walls of your office. So far, I've only gotten enough for one wall, so I guess I've got a ways to go. You too I bet! Oh well, we shall "endeavor to persevere!

Bethany Mattingly said...

Thanks for all the comments! I have a permanent smile on my face right now and my cheeks hurt from it. :D I'm glad I could get this idea across.

Shannon, the critique group sounds great!! Thanks for adding me to your sidebar. I'm honored!! I need to rearrange my sidebar, thanks for reminding me. :)

Stephanie, I couldn't agree with you more. I still hate writing them, even if I understand then a bit better.

Gavin, that song has been stuck in my head since Sunday, or was it Saturday?? when I thought of it. I had too many other blogs to write before I could do this one, so I kept thinking about it every time I got on here.

Aubrie, I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thanks, I still need all the good luck I can get.

V.S, Thank you, thank you (takes a bow) :D Glad I could make you smile. Your blog makes me smile a lot too!

Gorges Smythe, thanks for visiting my blog! Indeed we shall, as you say, "endeavor to persevere."

Tabitha Bird said...

Oh very good! I like that. Thing is you still have to craft those interesting and short two paragraphs.I find that almost impossible. I wrote 80 000 words about a terrible time in my life and how I came out the other side, now how do I condense that into a mere two paragraphs? If you figure that one out please, do post :) I am still re-writing my query letter and I am not even ready to query. I just think it it will take me that long to get it right. I hate the things. Necessary evil? Maybe. I still hate them.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Super! email me at: mrso_d at yahoo dot com and I'll forward you the email from Valerie! :)

This is exciting!

Bethany Mattingly said...

Tabitha, me too, (shakes head) me too.

Karen Denise said...

Wouldn't it be nice if we could put our queries to music! Great connection. I'm glad you're excited about writing your letter. That'll make all the difference.

Carla Gade said...

That's a great example. I think I've got it now!!!

Rhiannon Hart said...

I had a YES! Moment yesterday when thinking about how to portray my MC in book three as opposed to in book one and I realised I hadn't thought overtly about character development (oops.) I mean, it's there in book one and two to some degree, but by book three I want my girl to be all grown up so the reader can picture who she'll be and what she'll be doing after "The End". And I worked it out in a snap. Phew!

Good luck with the query drafting. They're tough, but it's a good feeling to have nailed it.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I get a kick out of writing query letters- it's like a twisted game. Plus, I can handle the challenge of writing one page of anything.

What I truly loathe is writing a synopsis. Blecch and double blecch.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Hey, Bethany! I have a surprise for you at my blog today. Come and see! ;-)

buddeshepherd said...

I had a friend from college who wrote a Brady Bunch fan journal. He was a die hard fan. You could possibly say groupie.
To support himself he worked as a security guard at a private Christian College and sold Hoover vacuum cleaners.
Then he got a job reviewing Porn sites.
All of a sudden it all got kind of creepy.
I guess that story has nothing to with anything you posted-but I've always wanted to tell that story to someone I didn't know. Funny but yet disturbing?

Amy Tate said...

Bethany, you're brilliant, girl! Great analogy! Nathan Bransford has a link on his blog to a previous post about constructing the query letter. I found it most helpful. Also, Elana Johnston wrote an ebook entitled, From the Query to the Call that I highly recommend.

~Ellie Kings~ said...

I'm not there yet, in the query process. But when I do get there, I'm sure I'll look back at your great posts. :) The Brady Bunch was one of my favorites when I was growing up. Love your analogy!
Your newest follower,

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Ahh, queries. We love them and hate them. I dont know if I've had an "ah-ha" moment, but I am getting better at writing them. (I think. I hope.)
Karen’s Blog

Bethany Mattingly said...

Karen Denise, I'd love to put my query letter to music as long as I didn't have to sing it. :) I'd be fascinating to head a condensed version of my book put to music though :)

Carla Gade, I'm glad you got it! Thanks for visiting my blog. I'm on my way to checking out yours!

Rhiannon, your MC sounds fascinating! I love YES! moments.

Stephanie, ick the synopsis, I'm not looking forward to that.

Shannon, I love my virtual flowers!! Thanks so much!

Buddshepherd, I agree strange and disturbing. :)

Amy, ha ha thanks, far from brilliant, though. I'm definitely going to check out those suggestions. I still need all the help I can get. Thanks!

Ellie, thanks for visiting and following!! I'm glad you liked my analogy :)

Karen, yeah, it's definitely a love/hate relationship. I'm sure you're getting better! If you are, then it means I might get a decent one if I work at it a bit more. :)

Gorges Smythe said...

Hello again Bethany: Just a thought, I'm an old geezer with old geezerly eyes and I can't make out the light blue lettering on the light green background on the links and such. I'm sure your young eyes have no trouble with it, but if you want to make your blog more geezer-frindly, you might want to use a darker hue. Keep writing, I enjoy reading your stuff (as do a bunch of other folks, obviously). BTW, I notice you caught my over-looked second quotation mark in my last comment. Way to go; that attention to detail will help get you published. Do you reckon there's a lesson there for me?