This is just what the name implies: Each week, I ask someone interesting a question and request that she/he respond in 50 words or less.
Or somewhere in the ballpark of 50 words. That’s why there’s an “-ish.” I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this site isn’t exactly a bastion of rigidity.
My guest here in this 18th—yes, 18th; you never thought I’d make it this long, did you?—installment of 50 Words Fridays is Brooks Sherman (@byobrooks on Twitter), a literary agent with FinePrint Literary Management. He works with both adult and children’s books, with a particular interest in middle grade novels. His website is brookssherman.com.
As an agent, Brooks reads a veritable landslide of letters from writers pitching him their books, and I think they’d all probably be interested in knowing:
What has been the most effective opening to a query that has actually succeeded in making you want to learn more about the author’s project?
A lot of people talk about opening your query with a hook—one or two lines that present us with an important or unique quality to the protagonist, world, or conflict. Done well, it’s an effective way to immediately snag an agent’s attention.
I don’t know if my queries contained a “hook” per se, but you better believe they got awkward in a hurry.
Big thanks to Brooks for stopping by this week. Make sure to come back next Friday, when I’ll be joined by Adriana Nova (@adriananova_), associate director of social media for New York Magazine.