I also want to thank Kate for hosting the contest with me and getting back with the winner so soon. She truly does rock.
So.. now what you all been waiting for....Drum Roll please....
We got some wonderful entries in this contest--thanks to everyone who contributed.
Before announcing the winner, though, I want to give everyone a couple of pointers for writing queries and jacket copy.
*pause as people scroll down anyway to see who won*
1) When writing jacket copy or a query, make sure that the first line hooks the reader. A logline isn't necessary, but if you have one, make it memorable. For example, the one for BENEATH THE SURFACE drew me in immediately:
A timeless love. An endless curse. Which one will survive the summer?
I can picture that on a book cover, and I can picture a lot of readers picking up the book because of a line like that. So, make sure that your first line draws the readers in... and that each additional line keeps them there.
2) Bring out your narrative voice in the query or jacket copy. WITCH COUNTRY and CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE CYBORG did a great job with this. If your character has a folksy or sarcastic or funny narrative voice, it sells the story. For example, there have been a TON of vampire books in recent years, but Molly Harper's NICE GIRLS DON'T HAVE FANGS had such a wonderful narrative voice, it didn't matter. Her series stood out as a great read IN SPITE of being a vampire story. Right now, the YA market is glutted--everyone is writing YA. Your narrative voice needs to be the sparkly hat that makes your book stand out in the crowd.
3) Some things to avoid:
Avoid clichés--put things in your own words. As an editor, I avoid clichés like the plague; they make me madder than a wet hen, and I wouldn't be caught dead accepting a manuscript full of them.
Avoid telling about emotions--don't say, "she was angry;" show us how her anger makes something burn in her gut or tighten her jaw. This goes for the rest of the book, too.
Avoid giving book reports--we didn't have any like this in this contest, thank heavens! But I've seen queries that read like something written before the bell in homeroom: "And then they leave the castle and go to the tavern. And then they get in a fight with a group of angry dwarves."
Avoid high fantasy plots in which people leave the castle and get in a tavern brawl with dwarves. It's been done.
4) The main difference between a query and jacket copy is that a query gives the agent or editor a full concept of the premise, main character, and major plot elements. The jacket copy should limit any plot references to the first few chapters, so there aren't any spoilers.
So, that's my 2¢. I'd like to invite all of the contributors to query Spencer Hill Press when we re-open to submissions in December. And you've GOT to check out PERFECTION when it comes out next May, of course! It's an amazing story--check out the jacket copy here:
And now, what you've been waiting for:
I'd like to give honorable mentions to the interesting plot elements of THE HOURGLASS BRIDGE, the wonderful twist of CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE CYBORG, the creeptastic premise of NETHER BOUND, the emotional bind of THE END WORLD, and the I-think-this-happened-in-NYC-when-TWILIGHT-came-out enjoyment of LURE.
The winner of the jacket copy query contest is...
THAT SUCCS by Larissa Hardesty
Congratulations, Larissa! Please get in touch through the Spencer Hill contact form
for instructions on how to receive your partial critique.
Thanks, again, Kate for the great advice. And for giving everyone who entered a chance to query Spencer Hill in December. That is beyond awesome. Be sure to mention you contributed to the contest in the opening paragraph to give Kate a reminder.
Grats to all the honorable mentions.
And a big CONGRATS to Larissa Hardesty!
Please leave Larissa a comment congratulating her and please leave another for Kate thanking her.
Keep a look out on my blog. I'll be hosting another contest
to torture... to torment...um...I'll just be hosting another contest soon.