Query Do's And Don'ts

Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Hiya Readers!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Wednesday!

Today's post is about query do's and don'ts. (At least mine, anyway.)

Now, some of you are in the beginning stages of the query process and some of you are all ready agented so you don't have to worry about this stage at all.

But...

You never know when a few helpful tips might come in handy.

Do's

1. Be informative, but describe the novel in no more than three paragraphs.

Look, here's the thing, and I don't know if this is just me or other agents feel the same way, but I don't want to read a book about you explaining your entire story from beginning to end. Paragraphs in a query should be short, simple, and to the point.

2. Always tell the agent a little bit about yourself.

So you're a member of three great writing groups? Have a degree in Creative Writing? Have a platform? Yeah. We want to know that stuff.

And me personally, I want to know just how many projects you've written.

3. Be professional.

But I'm pretty sure most of you know how to do that. :)

Don'ts

1. Do not. I repeat do not... Tell me that you're the next J.K. Rowling.

This is my number one query pet peeve. I dislike query letters to begin with. I don't like to read them. I think a lot of writers have trouble with them. And 99.9 percent of the time, I skip the query portion and read the writing that's pasted into the email first.

BUT....

If I do happen to skim the query line and see something like that, its an instant rejection for me. First off, its great that you're confident in your skills, I mean it really is, but how much is too much? THAT is too much.

2. If you receive a rejection, do not write back with a snappy, unprofessional letter.

I don't know about other agents, but I avoid rejection letters as long as possible because I don't like writing them. I feel like a giant dream crusher. I know how hard writers work on their craft. How much time they put in. The passion and emotion that's involved. And I wish I could sign everyone that queries me, but sadly, I can't.

Sometimes you might think you're ready to begin querying, but you're not. And all it will take is a little more time, hard work, and perseverance before you should begin building that query letter, perfecting it, and then sending it out. Don't ever be in a rush. Take it from me, I used to be that way. But, I have since learned my lesson and also learned to take a step back, breathe, and take my time on things.

In the end, that will show in your work. And the reader or agent will able to see it to.

Hopefully some of these tips helped.

Cheers!

4 comments:

  1. Hahaha, I wrote about the JK Rowling thing in my blog. *No one reads my blog, but I still hoped I'd get at least one person to refrain from being so jerky.

    Its like, "Yes, yes, we know your mom thinks you hung the moon, but let's keep that on the down low, ok?"

    Thanks for the tips! Unfortunately, I think my first novel will be shelved now because I was in such a hurry and so excited to get it out there that my query letter may have ruined things for my story. Hindsight really is 20/20. I was new and excited and I guess I learned the hard way. Now I'll never know if the agents thought my writing was lousy, or just couldn't get past my query letter.

  1. Good to know that some agents skip ahead to read the pages first!

    Also, I wonder how common it is for agents to want to know how many projects a potential client has written. I've considered putting a sentence in my query along the lines of, "This is the first novel I'm querying, but by no means is it the first project I've worked on."

    Do you think that would be good to put in every query letter? Or is it more of a personal preference?

  1. I interned for a fantastic agent. I always thought it was mean when they did the 'instant reject' when they came across that query pet peeve. I changed my mind in an instant when I started reading the query slush pile.

    My pet peeve was reading the line "Heart wrenching tale of..." It had a 9 out of 10 record for rejection because there was nothing heart wrenching about the query at all.

    Ahh... the slush pile. Hard not to go a little nuts digging through it!

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