Query – The Writer’s Curse Word

What’s the worst thing about writing?  I guess that really depends on who you ask.

For some, it might be actually getting that first book on paper. Countless people set out to write a novel, but never actually finish.

Others might tell you it’s the editing process. After weeks, months, years of striving to get your brilliant novel idea on papers you joyously type the words “The End” only to realize the real work is just beginning.  Now you’ve got to sit down and slash that brilliant novel into thousand pieces and attempt to put it back together again.

For me, it’s querying. This devil’s invention basically combines everything I hate. At the top of that list: patience and in-your-face rejection. Here’s the basic recipe:

  • Boil down your 80,000 word novel to less than 300 words and still make it intriguing enough for an agent to want to read the whole story.  Oh, and don’t forget, in those 300 words you need to include basic facts about the novel (word count, genre, etc.) and your pertinent bio information.

  • Send your query to bunches of agents.  Only after making sure you’ve researched each agent’s specific likes, requirements, the name of their first pet, and favorite flavor of ice cream. This way you can send them exactly what they want in the precise way they want it.

  • Next you wait… wait… wait… wait… WAIT… to hear something, anything from said agents. Sometimes they don’t bother to reply.  And sometimes you get that all too familiar rejection letter.

  • Rinse and repeat… what fun!

It genuinely makes me want to beat my head off my desk.  Luckily most of my writing occurs on my couch with a laptop so my head remains dent free.

Admittedly, I’m no expert when it comes to querying. I queried my first novel, The Future Savior Series: Conception. What a disaster!  Thinking back, I realize I made just about every single mistake one could make with a query letter. It’s amazing that book was published at all.

This time I studied my butt off!  I’m as prepared as I can possibly be to query this new project.  I read every article about querying I could get my hands on. Advice from agents, authors, publishers. A lot of the advice was similar, some contradicted, but ultimately one thing rang true: Be as brief as possible!

Agents and publishers are some of the busiest people… ever. When they read queries they want to get to the point pronto. So, just like with your novel, you need to revise, revise, revise your query letter.

I have two words for you:  Query Shark

I can’t even begin to tell you how much this site helped me!  Before you send out your first query letter, you MUST go to Query Shark and read through the archives. There are almost 300 query letters on there that have been painstakingly critiqued by Janet Reid, one of the most respected agents in the business. She currently works at New Leaf Media by day and at night she is the Query Shark.

I spent HOURS going through the archives at Query Shark, revising my query. Is it perfect? Pshaw!!!  Writing is never prefect.  But I can confidently query knowing I did absolutely everything I could possibly do.

So, wish me luck as I start off on this querying adventure.  Fingers crossed I find an agent!  And let me know where you are in your writing adventure so I can wish you luck too!

Until next time friends… Happy Reading!