Shannon Barr Tells Authors to be Their Own Biggest Fan

Shannon Barr picture

Shannon Barr
Editorial Assistant

Though sometimes it seems we hire for how a name sounds (Shannon, Sarah, Shara, Shana, Dana, Dana and more), it’s really about the experience, enthusiasm and energy that person brings to the job! Shannon Barr has only been here a few months, but she’s had some good teachers and so has learned a lot. Here she’s going to share what catches her attention…

Be Your Own Biggest Fan!

I am fairly new to the Harlequin world, which means I get the task of reading all the manuscript proposals that come through to the Harlequin Nocturne and Harlequin Intrigue lines. I actually quite enjoy going through the “Slush” pile because I am always impressed by the variety of ideas floating around in writers’ minds (Partly because I work on the paranormal romance line, so the ideas are nothing if not entertaining.) However, something I have noticed through my reading is the somewhat unenthusiastic query letter or synopsis at the beginning of a proposal from potential, and sometimes established, authors.

The query letter/synopsis is a really great opportunity for authors to get agents and editors as excited about the story as you are. But a lot of the letters I see are rather flat. Obviously you, as a writer, have put a lot of effort into the book and are excited about it. Otherwise, why would you want it to be published? So my best advice is to be your own biggest fan and sales person. Everyone has their favorite, book, or movie, or TV show that we can’t wait to tell everybody we meet all about. Make sure you have the same level of enthusiasm for your own work. Be creative. Use your writing talent to create an intriguing, slightly mysterious synopsis of the book that gets a reader interested in the story. (But don’t end with “if you want more you’ll have to request the manuscript!”)

A couple of suggestions: look at the back cover copy of similar books (or books from the line you are submitting to) and model your synopsis in a similar fashion to create interest. Make comparisons between your book and other popular books, movies, or TV shows—just don’t forget to explain why yours is unique. Figure out the key selling points in your book and make sure they stated in the query letter.

In this digital world where there is so much content available at our fingertips, the author needs to be able to highlight what makes her book stand out. Her writing and enthusiasm needs to persuade me to take a chance so I can get excited and request the book and hopefully bring it forward to my boss.

After all, in some respects we are all sales people and need to be our own biggest fans!

 Thank you, Shannon! Follow her on Twitter @Barr_Shannon where you can get further insights from her and from other Harlequin editors.

Get reading–and writing!

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