Posts Tagged ‘query letters’

Revisiting Query Letters

A branch of my library system had a talk last night, given by Kristen Nelson and Angie Hidapp of the Nelson Literary Agency here in Colorado, about querying and query letters.

My husband said I should go, and so I did, and there were free cookies, so woo! But it served as a good reminder of the process.

If we go back to 2009, back before this blog, I was somewhat seriously querying. I’d finished my first revision ever, had done all my research, crafted a query letter and a synopsis, and had started sending queries out. And I got some requests, all of which came back with a “good, but not great” rejection. And I entered that story in some contests, with the same results, and then sent out more queries and got nothing, so I shelved that story and went on to other things.

But now I’m back in the querying saddle, and it was good to go through the process again, because admittedly I’ve just been working on my query, and it wasn’t until last night that I realized a refresher was actually not a bad idea, since it’s been so long.

A query letter, to recap, is like a cover letter on a resume. It’s a short letter (or email, these days) that explains the basics of your story. If it catches an agent’s/publisher’s attention, they then go on to read or request pages (depending on whether that particular agency/publisher asks for pages with the query). That’s its whole job–attract attention so the actual manuscript gets looked at.

There’s generally four parts: an intro (Hello, I think you would be a good fit because we both like plesiosaurs, and also we talked about plesiosaurs that one time I cornered you in the elevator at that writer’s conference), some basic story stats (word count, genre, title), a pitch (this is what my book is about, look isn’t it fascinating), and a bio (I have relevant experience which makes it sound like I may have a clue what I’m talking about).

The bio part has always been a bane of mine (I mean, alongside the pitch, but I think most people have pitch issues). I’ve generally gotten the impression that it’s no good to mention you’re an indie author unless you have major sales. I also have no major publication credits and have won no awards, so my instinct has always been to just…not do that part. But I did ask about that, and they said it was fine to just put a brief biographical statement like “I live in Colorado and 15 cats and a landsquid.”

Which is news to me, but hey, what can it hurt? It’s not really relevant until I manage to find a pitch that doesn’t suck, so, you know.

How are you doing, Squiders? (Don’t worry, it will all be over, one way or another, tomorrow.)

The Mess of the Query Letter

The mess of my life too, Squiders.

I’ve finally got everything in order to start getting my submission stuff together for my YA paranormal novel. So now I need to construct a query letter and a synopsis. I haven’t had to do either in, oh, five, six years? And sky sharks, does it show.

I kind of flipped out for the first few days this week. Do query letters still work the same way they did back then? If not, how have they changed? And then I cavorted about the Internet for an unnecessary amount of time. And then I procrastinated writing my query letter for as long as humanly possible, and then I wrote two of what are perhaps the worst query letters known to man.

I’d really like someone else to look at them. But my main writing community has undergone a membership shift in the past several years, and there’s not as many experienced people on a regular basis anymore. Do you know of any good communities for such things, Squiders? I promise that I will reciprocate (I’m actually decently at telling what’s wrong with query letters that are not my own) and not just be that annoying poster who shows up and asks for critique without so much as a “How do you do?”

And for the sake of why not, I’ll post my two current attempts here underneath a cut. If you’re interested in such things, you can give them a look.

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Friday Round-up

My thoughts and prayers are with Japan today.  Here are some options for helping them.

Secret Space Shuttle Blasts Off for Second Mission
Alien Microbe Claim Starts Fight Over Meteorite
Solving the Mystery of the Most Violent Event in the Universe
Voyager Continues to Explore Edge of Solar System (Soon it will find the Borg and be transformed into V’ger and wreak havoc)
Picture of Saturn and Titan
Real Life Transformer (They programmed it to dance!  That’s awesome, but…why?)
Amazing photo of ISS/Discovery in front of the sun

Interview with Robin Hobb
Giveaway for Sonia Gensler’s The Revenant (Plus other fun swag – enter by Sunday)
Review of The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi
3 Ways George Lucas’s Wife Helped Star Wars
Brandon Sanderson muses on the Suvudu Cage Matches
Review of Jasper Fforde’s Shades of Grey
Favorite Undercover 80s Aliens
Interview with Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert about Hellhole
History of Science Fiction (graphic)

Misc Books
Science Fiction Author Declares War Against Literary Fiction

Query Letter Critique Contest (focused on YA)

Things of Interest
National Geographic builds House from Up! (Awesome, but…why?)