I recently read an article about the top ten things publishers don’t want to hear in query letters. I was struck by the author pointing out that publishers don’t want to hear what inspired you to write the story.
They must hear it a lot, so much so that it has lost credibility with them. Which I find unfortunate for a number of reasons. Writing seminars, books on writing, and other author advice all focus on the adage, “write what you know.”
I think as writers we get caught up in what has inspired us that we tend to forget that these publishers hear that day in and day out. That they want us to “wow” them with something new.
I am guilty of the query letter talking about how Cowgirl Lessons was inspired by a real girl, a real horse, and a real trainer. I want to stand on the highest point and share this sweet pony with everyone. Should I pursue the traditional publishing path again, talking about inspiration will not be a part of my query.
Just know this, eventually somebody will want to know what inspired the book. I have had several interviews and that question gets asked all the time. It gives me the opportunity to shout from the highest point I can find (ok maybe not shout) about what inspires me to write.
So here is my sage advice. Be inspired by your life, write what you know, if you don’t know but still want to write about it – research it well, and take that journey.