Digital Media Queries

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Jan 12 2011

A Twitter follower recently asked me if I would ever consider digital media submissions and sent a link to a YouTube video about her book. Honestly, I can’t see many agents embracing this type of query. For one reason, it takes way too long. Watching a video, or just getting to the part of a video that actually tells you anything, takes far longer than reading a query. For a second reason, unless the book is an “enhanced ebook” and contains a lot of video, a YouTube video doesn’t really tell me what I want to know about your book, which is what your story is about, not how you can sell it later.


15 responses to “Digital Media Queries”

  1. Good grief. It's hard enough for most people to condense their book into a coherent 300-word query letter. I'd hate to see what your average writer would throw together for a book trailer type presentation.

    Could you imagine 200 multi-media queries about angels or mer-critters, one after the other, all done with the same or similar clip art and the same or similar music?

    That's a recipe for a nervous breakdown.

  2. For me the query letter is the first piece of writing an author uses to prove he/she can write at all. If I ran a video store, I'd want videos. Since I edit a literary magazine, prove to me that you can write! Not only would I not embrace the idea of a YouTube video query, I'd ignore it.

  3. Perhaps if this were a writer trying to sell a screenplay this would work. But, for goodness' sake, what an agent wants to see (if I understand correctly) is what your story is and how well you can write it. A digital media query might show the former, but not the latter. Sheesh!

  4. Avatar Dan says:

    So that singing query-gram I sent you was probably not a good idea either?

  5. Avatar Fawn Neun says:

    A YouTube video doesn't show me you can, write, either.

    I don't even want to watch a news video, much less a query video. I'd much rather read the news story or the query letter. It's quicker, I don't need to put on headphones or make sure my speakers are on. I don't have to go to another website.

    No from me. I'd ignore it as well.

  6. Avatar Alexis Grant says:

    It also doesn't tell you whether she can WRITE! (But kudos to that writer for thinking outside the box.)

  7. Does showing up at your house and acting it out work? Hmm… 😉

  8. As we focus more on a visual life, this is probably the result. But, we are writers and our visual life is ultimately in the imagination.

  9. Avatar Robena Grant says:

    Most of the book trailers I've seen show not much at all of the story. It would be hard for an agent or editor to glean anything from one, other than tone.

    They seem to be about the music, and the tone, and the beautiful faces, demons, fangs, naked bodies, and if you're lucky they flash a few times to the cover artwork and the author's name.

    They're an advertisement, that's all. Another marketing tool. One you can easily tune out. I have a hard time imagining trailers even help sell books to readers. Except maybe to the young crowd. ; )

  10. Avatar ryan field says:

    "For one reason, it takes way too long. Watching a video, or just getting to the part of a video that actually tells you anything, takes far longer than reading a query."

    And that's a darn good reason.

  11. Avatar Layton Green says:

    Hi Jessica,
    Speaking of digital media, I'm curious at what sales threshold you would consider a query from an epublished novel.

  12. I rarely watch book trailers for books that have been published. Few hold my attention or seem to tell me anything substantial about the book. I may get a sense of the story, but not whether the writing is any good. If I were trying to pitch my book to an agent, I'd want to show that both my story and writing are good. Thus, the format seems limited to me. (That and there's also the fact that it would take agents even longer to review queries if they had to watch a couple minutes of video for each one.)

  13. Avatar Candi Wall says:

    I can't imagine many agents or editors would consider this a viable option.

    Keeping an agent's attention for more the first few sentences can be difficult enough, and I can't imagine any graphics/pictures/or persons (although if you can get Gerard Butler to pitch you might stand a chance of them watching) that would WOW an agent enough to keep them listening. No matter how well put together it is.

    Now video/media pitches might have a future – someday and in the right venue. There are some agent's who have participated in the fun of video pitching or online conferences, however those are usually in a learning/practice capacity.

    Nope, I have to agree that as evil as those darn queries are, a good one is the gold we need to refine.

  14. Avatar DCS says:

    Video query, probably not. But a book trailer has possibilities, especially when you consider how e-books are on the rise and they are being downloaded to all kinds of devices. I wouldn't dismiss a well produced short video as a great marketing tool in the near future. As a matter of fact, I might just do it with my book. A lot about publishing has been turned upside down in the last two years. Stand pat at your peril.

  15. Avatar LivelyClamor says:

    As a newbie who may be ready to query in a few years, I appreciate the input but shudder to think query letters are read and decisions made in seconds. That's the impression I'm left with aside from the valid concerns about quality and writing style.