Question: My plan was to give potential agents the ability to read up to 1/3 of the book instantly. Eight years ago, you said not to include active links, but it’s very common now. Is this acceptable? Active is much easier because email software will turn parts of a URL into what looks like active links, but they don’t work, which could be confusing. This is what a non-active link could look like:
To read up to 88 pages of the book on Zoho TeamDrive, go to tdrive.li/JmuUf_JanetReid (add https:// at beginning and paste into browser) and enter the password (redacted)
Is this a good idea or a bad one? I’ve made this a real link/password for the Shark in case she wants to see how it works.
Thank you for making query writing educational and entertaining. You can chomp my arm off now (left please since I write with my right).
You're solving a problem that doesn't exist.
If I want to read your manuscript all I have to do is hit Reply to your email, and ask you to come to my house and read it. And about 50% of all y'all would be there within an hour.
Alternatively, I can just email you to send the manuscript as a word doc. In other words, the system works fine, don't screw around with it unless asked to do so.
The only reason I can think of that made you want to do this is being afraid you'll miss the email requesting the full. Unless you are headed for a long prison term, on a voyage to Mars, or stalking the wild asparagus in Borneo, you'll be available enough to send something. I don't need the manuscript the instant I read your query. I generally read queries in batches, and requested fulls when I've set aside a block of time.
So, there's no real reason you need this PLUS it's a TERRIBLE idea and you should never do it because it marks you as a crackpot who thinks "follow the damn directions" doesn't apply to you. I'm sure that's not the real you, so don't do stuff that makes people think so.
Also, I like to have the manuscript here on my hard drive so I can adjust the font, clear out all the crazy margins you set, insert double spacing, AND be able to send it back to you with some notes marked in track changes. In other words, what I ask for is what I want, and what I want is not arbitrary or whimsical.
Dear Mr./Ms. Agent Name:
Things 15-year-old Josh Taylor didn’t see coming:
A mom who doesn’t know him.
A clone in the kitchen that looks exactly like him.
A dead father who’s very much alive.
It’s like he wandered into the Twilight Zone . . . or a seriously messed up after-school special. He’s knocked unconscious and wakes up in a world where supernatural creatures live among humans, technology has advanced by a couple decades, and even his family is different.
This is actually pretty good, and enticing.
An angel, named Zed, claims he’s a champion with the power to manipulate matter and energy. And he thinks that’s ridiculous — until he sends kids flying with a wave of his hand and strikes a tree with lightning. An ancient prophecy declares he’s destined to liberate a powerful sword, and he easily frees it. But it’s engraved with a freaky warning: “In the wrong hands this is a weapon of mass destruction. Protect it at all costs.”
Now he’s got a list of things he never thought he’d do:
Make it rain in the school gym.
Heal his friend’s cat-dog hybrid.
Steal a priceless artifact from a museum.
Battle a 5322-year-old changeling at the zoo.
And those were the easy parts. Something invisible is stalking Josh. Angels fight over him, try to recruit him, and force him into dangerous situations to test his powers. Even his home isn’t safe — with a spiteful AI in charge. And vampires and aliens want to steal the weapon, and they threaten to kill him and his family and friends to get it. Josh must learn to use his superpowers quickly, because if he fails, everyone and everything he loves could be lost.
TITLE — a 93,000-word YA alternate-universe adventure — is my first novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Angels, vampires and aliens. And Artificial Intelligence. You've got a LOT of weird here. Often the best plots are pretty simple. You don't need fusion cooking for a tasty treat (Brussels sprouts, raisins, walnuts with ice cream!); you need really simple but delicious ingredients. Corn on the cob. Butter. A napkin.
Over stuffing the plot is something I see in writers early in their career. It takes confidence to pare down, and confidence takes a while to build.
It's not your lunatic page link that will earn you a pass here; it's the overly elaborate plot.
Revise. Resend. And ditch the link idea forever.