And now, a little about queries. Dun, dun, dun...
Tips for writing successful queries are endless, as are agents' and editors' tastes in what they want to see in a query. As always, it's important to check the guidelines for specific agents and editors and follow those guidelines exactly.
Here's some helpful information:
Clarity Rules The Day
Scott Eagan, literary agent for Greyhaus Literary Agency, wrote this great post: Clarity In Queries--The Biggest Reason Editors and Agents Say No. It's a great post, and definitely worth a read. Eagan reminds us to answer these questions in our query:
- Title, genre and word count
- What makes your story unique
- Who the characters are
- What is their goal, motivation and conflict
- What is the central conflict in the story
- What is the theme or "take-away" for the author
Query Writing Basics
Querytracker.net has an excellent resource, Query Writing Basics, which explains what a query letter is, and what should or shouldn't be in one.
Style and Voice
One lesson I remembered is that our queries should whet the appetite of agents and editors. They should reflect the tone and voice of the manuscript. We should choose strong, specific words that quickly announce to the pros what our book is about.
Read Successful Queries
The links on Querytracker.net provide plenty of samples of successful queries. When writing my new query, I dragged out my previous query that had caught my agent's attention. It was helpful to once again see how I'd whittled down my own novel into concise paragraphs with plenty of flavor.
Hook, Setup, Conflict
Elana Johnson, super person, amazing author, and Queen of the Query, has great tips for writing queries on her blog. Check out her posts on The Hook, The Setup, and The Conflict.
On Bubblecow, Author Gary Smailes wrote The Query Letter That Won Me An Agent And A Four Book Deal (And Why It Was So Successful). It's interesting to see the author break it all down and point out what made it work.
Is my query finished? Heck no! There's plenty of work to be done. But studying the basics helped lead me in the right direction.
Have you written a query letter lately? Do you like or loathe the process? Can you share any query tips with the rest of us?