Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Question of the Week - Queries

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Do writing query letters make you want to rip out your hair?

Me? Yes!

Can you tell I've been working on a query letter for a couple of weeks now?

What websites, if any, do you use to polish your query letter?


Natalie Aguirre said...

Yes! I'm an attorney who writes letters everyday and quickly. But I swear I've spent over 40 hours and pages and pages on my query.

I read Matt McNish's query critiques regularly and look for samples of good ones on Guide to Literary Agents. I really like Elana Johnson's book from The Query to the Call too. Good luck!

Christine Danek said...

Matthew MacNish is very helpful. Also, Elana Johnson's From Query To Call. Also, Query Shark.
Check out K.M. Walton's webpage and go under the writers column. She has a ton of info there too.
Good luck.
Queries are no fun.

Unknown said...

Ah, the query (almost as bad as the synopsis!)

You can get good feedback from the Writer's Digest query group. Matthew MacNish's site is fantastic, as is Janet Reid's Query Shark.

Cherie Reich said...

Well, considering I haven't sent out a query yet, I'm not sure if my queries will work or not. They can be very difficult to write, though. I've even been to a query letter workshop, and I still don't know if I know how to really write one well.

Unknown said...

I've never written one. However, even the thought of doing one makes me want to rip my hair out.

Annie McMahon said...

I'm at the same stage. I found quite a few useful sites to help me with queries. I posted them on my blog: I hope you find this useful! And now, reading the comments, I found a few more sites to add to my list. Thank you! Time to revise this blog post.

Anonymous said...

Queries don't scare me at all, Nicole. I'm pretty good at writing persuasive letters. It's writing books that scares the dickens out of me. :)

Catherine Stine said...

Good luck with that query, Nicole! Some of the sites that folks are recommending are great. I teach people how to write good query (though no blog post on it yet), but when I have to write one, it is challenging. I break it into digestible pieces-why contact this particular person? A compelling paragraph synop of your story. Why it stretches the genre forward (without doing an actual sales pitch on it). Your credentials and experience, including your social media expertise.

Southpaw said...

I've heard so many scary things about query letters. I wish you luck.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's never fun!
Matthew critiques query letters on his QQQE blog. He might be able to help.

erica and christy said...

I'm lucky to have agented and published friends who help me polish up my queries. But why I get everything from a full request to a non-response on the same letter, I will NEVER figure out!

Matthew MacNish said...

I'm flattered that so many would mention me. And now I do have your query letter up!

Personally, I don't really use websites to polish my own queries. Instead, I rely on trusted friends.

Elana Johnson is the master, but Lisa and Laura Roecker, and Angela Ackerman have all helped me along the way.

Angela Brown said...

Well, if there was every a consensus on things, you've got it here.

Matt McNish is the ish
Elana Johnson's free download is the ish.

Love it when there's so much agreement.

Anonymous said...

Oh, how I detest the query process. The very concept of trying to reduce one's entire novel to about 200 words and preserve content, story, and style, infuriates me. It works for some books but is impossible for others. It places concept before execution. But I'm a big believer in execution. A great writer can make even the mundane sing.

And even worse than the effort of crafting that great query is sending them out and getting no response 60% of the time!

Fortunately, I just signed with a great agent, so my latest query -- and more importantly my latest novel succeeded in that respect. But I doubt I've seen the last of summarizing. I've now got to come up with short summaries of two as-yet-unwritten sequels!

Anonymous said...

For sure, yes! I don't really rely on websites to help . . . just look back at articles from magazines that have examples and read the backs of my fav books for inspiration & let my writing friends rip it apart. I totally suck at it but I think I'm getting better;)