29 July 2011

One Sentence to Hook an Agent?

Peter Brown Hoffmeister has a post today saying you have to hook an agent or magazine editor with the first sentence . . . of you cover letter. Yup, he says that, because of the numbers involved, most agents don't even get to the beautifully crafted first sentence of your manuscript.

But fear not! Unless you say something really stupid* in your cover letter to us Electric Spec editors, we promise we'll read the first sentence of your story before making a decision. In fact, I'll go so far as to say we almost always read the entire first paragraph. Sadly, if you have not hooked us at least by the first page, we're unlikely to read the rest. Based on the numbers, we just don't have time to read the entire story if it does not look promising.

*one example would be, "I'll let you publish my story so long as you agree to publish as is, without any editing"


lesleylsmith said...

I think this guy is too alarmist. One sentence is surely extreme. I just went to a workshop with an editor and an agent and they both said they skim all of all the letters they get. They also said they wanted the cover letter to have something specific about them in the first sentence, i.e. why are they being contacted rather than someone else.

But no question, rejection is part of being a writer. *sigh*
That reminds me...I need to go remove some sighs from my WIP. :)

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

I always think of it this way: do I want to work with someone who I have to impress with one sentence?

Probably not.

Martin Willoughby said...

I agree with 'sex scenes' (never thought I'd put that in a blog comment) and lesley. Anyone worth their salt will at least read the cover letter...unless it's 16 pages long. The man is bieg alarmist.

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

Most people online just call me "Sex" Martin. Or Starbucks. :)