Query Letters

Back from a wonderful holiday break. Finally reading Twilight. It certainly keeps one turning the pages.

I just finished my novel a while ago and will start writing query letters soon. This is the scary part, as I'm sure a lot of you know. What happens when your dream agents pass on your MS because your query doesn't grab them? That has to be an awful feeling.
You mean I'm being passed over just because my query sucked? But don't you want to read the book, anyway? It's really good!!!

Doesn't seem fair, but I can see how agents can only respond to queries that excite them. So I'm curious, writer friends. How much stressing did you do over query letters? Did you get them critiqued on message boards? Did you rewrite them a million times? Did you just go for it and send the first one out that you wrote? Curious minds want to know.


Carrie Harris said...

I have issues. I actually enjoyed writing my query. I did have it critiqued by my group but didn't change much of anything.

Gosh. How annoying and unhelpful, huh? For me, it was all about the voice though. I figured that the most important thing was to showcase my voice in the query. So I did, and lo, it was good. Snarf.

Pink Ink said...

Yeah, it's frustrating that for all the work we pour into our books, the query makes or breaks our chance to be read by an agent.

But that's the way life goes...

I asked for input from my beta readers as far as comparable books and plot synopsis to include in my query.

(I think that was the hardest thing for me, is boiling down the essence of my book in two paragraphs)

My first queries I just wrote quick and sent off (which I regretted then, but doesn't seem such a big deal now); some I obsess over more. I tweak my query depending on who I'm sending to, so it seems that each time, it's getting more polished.

Prince Balthazar said...

Actually that IS helpful, Carrie. One can always get advice and feedback, but in the end it is up to the writer and trusting their instincts. Showcasing your voice is a good thing to remember.

If you don't mind sharing, how long did it take you to get repped by KT Literary? Were they true to their word of getting back to writers' queries within two weeks?

K. M. Walton said...

Like Carrie, I too like writing my query letters. Each one represents a challenge to me...trying to get the mysterious agent or publishers attention, describe me as a writer & summarize what I've written.

The one I sent to Writers House meant a lot to me so I had a few close friends read it and then off it went (still have no word as of yet on that one!!!). Sometimes though, I just mail them off with no one at all reading them.

Carrie Harris said...

Kate has absolutely been true to her word when it comes to turnaround. I do recommend that anyone who is querying her (and everybody else, really) read her fabulous blog, Ask Daphne. She keeps people up to date with where she is query-wise and if there are any delays due to travel or whatever.

Of course, what with sending a partial, having that read, then sending a full and having THAT read, the whole query-to-offer thing took around three or four months. But it was very comfortable because I always knew what was going on and when to expect a response.

Prince Balthazar said...

Pink -- I think that's the hardest part, too: boiling your blood, sweat and tears down into two concise paragraphs. Sometimes I look at Query Shark and read queries that seem totally fine and then she rips them apart. Ouch!

K.M.-- I'll have to find some on-line writer friends look at my query because I don't have any writer friends in the real world -- just advertising people. Ugh. But they don't count. Come to think of it, I should be good at boiling this down because I work with words every day as a copywriter. But it's different when you're trying to sell yourself as opposed to cheeseburgers and cars.

Carrie --I have Daphne's blog bookmarked. I'll have to visit it more often. She's definitely on my short list.

Big Plain V said...

Hello sir, lovely blog you've got going here, wondered if you accept comments from strange passersby?


If not, pretend I stopped typing at the asterisks.

Query letter psychology: they're stinking hard to write, but they're a necessary evil, so you just hammer 'em out, jitters and all. Then you try to forget the whole distasteful process. Write something else, edit something else, visit a new blog...

Prince Balthazar said...

Hi Big Plain V and thanks for stopping by.I think that's the best advice: send 'em off and keep working. That's what I plan on doing.

When I finally get to that point. Soon...

Laini Taylor said...

Hi Ron! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I love the title of your manuscript and I wish you all the best with it! I also really really relate to what you say in your "about me" -- I too only began to truly enjoy (sometimes) writing once I started writing fantasy.

Hope your query finds its way into the right hands!

Elise Murphy said...

I can't find an email address for you so here's a comment instead!

Hi Ron,

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I just searched my email and I didn't see anything from you. I have been PLAGUED by unbelievable email / computer problems. Do you mind sending again?

As for queries . . . mine was pretty boiler plate. I was told the manuscript caught their attention. I know you hear that all the time . . . if the ms rocks they'll overlook just about anything. I think it's true, but you still have to get them to turn the page.

A clever query letter is great . . . but if the work doesn't back it up then it doesn't matter in the end.

Are you trying for serious / professional or off-the-wall?

And yep . . .ditto Laini on the fantasy. Love it.

Prince Balthazar said...

Laini, thanks for your post and dropping by. I'm honored.

Elise, thanks. I'll try again. And thanks for the info on queries.