Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Some Thoughts About Queries

I was working my way through the pile of e-queries yesterday, and it was amazing how many I opened that left me clueless. I would read and re-read the submission still to be left with far too many questions about the project. Now understand, these questions were not things such as "wow, I wonder how that's going to work out?" These were questions of "what on earth is this book about? What genre is it and so forth.

When it comes to a query, there really is no right or wrong way of writing one. However, if your job is to sell me on this story, to make me want to read more, then I simply cannot be left in the dark. You have a short period of time, roughly 1-2 paragraphs, to give me an idea of what the story is about. What is the theme of your book? What is the genre you are targeting?

If you spend all of your time using metaphorical language, or talking about yourself and your goals in life, the agent or editor isn't going to know if the book, which is the thing you are selling, is going to work. Sure, that metaphorical language gives us a sense of your use of language in writing, but we're still lost on the story.

If you limit the query to three basic things, you should be good to go.
THE BASICS - title, genre, word count (not page count)
THE BOOK - 1-2 paragraphs summarizing your book
THE BIO - A little bit about yourself.

Keep it to that, and you might have a better chance of seeing a request for more material.



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  2. Thanks for that Scott. It's so easy to get twisted up, worked up, do a stomp and spit dance over queries that you can hardly breath let alone write. Sometimes, I think if you take your story, put it down in two sentences, it's a great way of zeroing in. That bit of advice I need to take again myself --right now!!

  3. Thanks. It's always helpful to read query advice.

  4. Thanks - a great reminder. Must be frustrating for you. I'll try not to do that myself ;)