Friday, September 3, 2010

Queries and Submissions - TWO DIFFERENT THINGS

I was recently reading a post about queries that made some great points. The idea behind the post stated that a person should not give away everything in the query. As this writer described it, there should be enough to entice the editor or agent to want to read more. This is true. However, I do believe that many writers seem to miss something here, so I wanted to take the time to clear a few things up.

A query is different than a submission, although a query will go with your submission.

The word query implies a question. It is an offer to send an editor or an agent something more to read, and hopefully the story they are really interested in. I have always said, the query letter is the same thing as the cover letter for your resume. You have a single page to entice your future employer into taking the time (and not the normal 20-30 seconds) to actully look at your resume and your other material you sent. The same goes for a query letter.

The submission involves this same query (or slightly revised if you have already sent it alone) with the additional material that the editor or agent is asking for. This will likely include the synopsis and the partial or full manuscript. In this case, the comment that the prior writer has to be really thought out. Again, the query can have that great high concept blurb in it, but the rest of the material, especially the synopsis, MUST have the complete story in it. We need the ending and we need the plot. Sure you can leave out the minor things happening in the story and focus exclusively on the central storyline, but the whole thing needs to be there.

I only bring this up because I do receive a lot of submissions that still have me guessing. You don't want to do that!



  1. Scott,

    Good post, thanks. What are your thoughts on things that should be covered within the first 3 chapters? Should everything be "set up" and in the main plot/characters by then?

    I've received some recent rejections which state the story didn't start soon enough, and chapter three only hooks them in to what will happen next. But as a writer, especially one who's attended writer's meetings for years, that's what we're taught to do! Not to mention, throwing certain characters together without any motivation just to "have them meet by page 5" doesn't always work. Does it?

    Many thanks for any insight,

  2. Dear Scott,
    "Over one thousand queries? Good God. I'm sorry I brought it up now. Fortunately, I, of course, have finally written that lightning strike book myself, something truly unique, and am about to launch, one way or another. Happy Labor Day. Up goes the drawbridge. Jump.