Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Insecure About Queries? #IWSG



Welcome, Insecure Writers! If you haven't yet joined this wonderful group--created by Alex J. Cavanaugh--jump over here and fix that!

Are you feeling insecure about writing a query? Me too!

Two of my books were released last year, and when I go back and read the queries, I'm so proud that I wrote them. The query for The Boy Who Loved Fire helped me sign with an agent. It's perfect for that book.

As I entered the "new query" stage for another project, I was frozen. I couldn't snatch the words floating in my head and put them in a logical sequence that captured an entire story--even though I'd drafted a query pitch before I wrote the book. Was I losing my skills? Had I taken a step back?

No. It felt this way before I wrote the query for The Boy Who Loved Fire, and before I wrote the query for The Summer of Crossing Lines.

The trick for me is to do the following:
  1. Research "how to write a query," to remind me what works and what doesn't.
  2. Dive in.
Diving in can be the hardest. But once the crappy words are written, they can be deleted, replaced, and shaped. We can't do that with a blank page. So my crappy words are written, and I'm in the pruning stage. I'll get it right--with time and hard work.

If you're insecure about the query, like me, here are some links that may help: Writing a Query Letter, by Elana Johnson; articles about writing a query by Janice Hardy; and How to Write a Query Letter over at AgentQuery.com.

How about you, fellow writers? Do you struggle with writing queries? Have you nailed it? Any tips you can share with the rest of us?

20 comments:

  1. Hi Julie! Thanks for the links. Diving in really can be the hardest part. I've re-written my query letter about a dozen times now, and am still having trouble letting it go. Best of luck to you with yours!

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  2. You're right. If you just dive in and get the words on the paper, you have something to work with, something you can fix. Can't fix no words though.

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  3. I love Elana's book on query writing. I spent SO many hours on my query for my first manuscript that I ended up shelving. My second one isn't done but the draft of the query I did when I started it went much smoother. Maybe because it was an easier story to get down in those few paragraphs. But I really dislike how much effort we have to spend on the query letter. It's a letter, after all.

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  4. Queries are tricky. But you have to just get the words down or else you won't get anything done.

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  5. I like this suggestion of diving in. And thanks for the links to query writing sites. I will need this soon, I hope.

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  6. Woot! Thanks for the reminder and good luck querying. It's so good to remember that the first thing you put on paper doesn't have to be perfect. Just get something down and then work on it.

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  7. Queries are mind-boggling. A catchy hook is important. I knew my one query was right-on because the agent, Jodi Reamer asked for a partial. YAY! But that was with my debut novel, which needed a haul over. She passed, but eventually it did get published with a small press. Good Luck with the process again!!!

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  8. Querying terrifies me! I had to write one for a contest and it just did not go well at all. I'm hoping once my manuscript is in a good place maybe the words will come more easily to me. Good luck with yours!

    February IWSG Co-host

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  9. Trying to write the perfect query letter is tough. I've actually haven't had success with any of my query letters yet. With my small press, only a small cover letter is all I need, which is a relief, but I still have a series I'm trying to get an agent for.

    Good luck with your query!

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  10. I'm ready to "dive in" to a synopsis but it seems every time I look at the water it's frozen over, which does the same to me! AAACK! But I'll crack through into safe, warmth, and calm. I have to take that leap of faith.

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  11. I don't have too difficult a time with queries. I know the importance of them is heavily stressed, but the way I look at it is if I point out the exciting parts of the story and it piques an editor's interest, then the manuscript will do the talking. The blurb on the other hand...*head desk*

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  12. And feedback, feedback, feedback!!! I hate queries. It is one of the reasons I am most upset there is no more ABNA--that pitch piece forced me to really get my pitch down.

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  13. I hate queries. Feedback helps.

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  14. I think every time we start a new query or story, we always forget how hard it was to get started the last time. Get used to the feeling. With a little work, your next query will probably be even better than your previous ones.

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  15. I dive in like you do for queries and blurbs. Write one no matter how crappy. Then delete, add, fix, and keep working until I get it right. Or at least make it better than crappy.

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  16. I've used all those sources! And over at Agent Query Connect, there's a great forum for getting help with your query. :)

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  17. It's been awhile since I've queried, but yeah, it can be so hard. What has helped me is to read good queries, especially if I can find some for books I've read. I like the idea of writing a query that is also going to work as your back cover text. A good query can usually do both jobs.

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  18. Query writing is difficult. Glad you landed an agent with it. I'm still working on the one for my first novel, but I have had a few short stories published off those queries.

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  19. I'm a million times better at writing queries for other people. It's cray cray trying to disseminate all the story points in one's head and decided how to boil them down. Just say query makes my blood pressure spike. Don't get me started on synopsis.

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  20. Like everything to do with this writing business, the more you practice, the better you become.

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