It’s time to introduce the third and final member of the evil trio of criminal masterminds judging the Haunted Writing Clinic and Contest, Kathleen Kubasiak. Ms. Kubasiak is one of our devilish acquisitions editors and she mostly reads young adult and new adult.
What are the most common query mistakes you see? Is there anything that particularly annoys you?
The query is the author’s first introduction to an agent or editor, so an unedited query letter is annoying, and I think it demonstrates a lack of respect for the work in question. There is also a tendency for authors to tell too much about the story and the main character.
How would you describe an ideal query?
An ideal query should be short and to the point. I would like to know who the main character is and the basic plot catalyst. This is similar to the blurb that would be on the back of the book cover. Genre, intended audience, and word count are also important to include.
How far into a submission do you usually get before you have an idea of whether or not you want to read more?
I always read each submission in its entirety, but generally the first page is all that is necessary.
What are some turn-offs that you might find on page one?
As with the query, correctable errors which basic proofreading should have caught are frustrating. I also don’t like when the author gives a lot of background information; it’s better to begin your story at a point of action.
What are the characteristics of a great first page? What makes you want to read on?
I love when authors jump right into the plot. I don’t want to spend the first chapter reading a who’s who and here’s here. A well developed character will unfold as the story progresses. Give me the vital details about a character and an idea of where we are or where we are going and I’ll read on.
What is your favorite first line of a book?
Well, its actually two sentences…
“Call me Ishmael. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.” Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
This is an ideal opening. Here you have read only 44 words, but you already know, or can infer, so much about the main character. Also, you know where the action is going to take you and what type of adventure you can anticipate.
What types of submissions are you looking for now?
I haven’t developed a specialty or preference. I am comfortable reading any submission that may be appropriate for Curiosity Quills Press.