Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Truth About Queries

You want the truth about queries?

They suck.

There's the truth.

But even though queries suck to write, suck to read, and suck in every general way, they are a necessary evil of suckiness if you wish to be a traditionally published author.

If you want an agent to represent your book to the BIG publishers, you must A) write a book, B) write a query, or two, or ten, or fifty, or (in my case), seventy eight.

There are a few short "rules" to writing queries.
I am only going to give you the highlights.
If you want the true and complete skinny on queries, take this class: http://litreactor.com/classes/the-art-of-the-query-letter-with-literary-agent-bree-ogden
It's taught by an actual literary agent, who reads a million queries, and can tell you what to do, what not to do, and how to do it.

I highly recommend it!

If you're so slick and think you know everything, here are just a few query tips to get you started.

1) Spell the agent's name right

2) Know your genre

3) Query only agents that represent your genre

4) Follow the agent submission guidelines



 - Not a whole synopsis, not a two paragraph long description of how your book is better than Harry Potter and will sell more books that Twilight (tsk, tsk), but an intelligent, succinct, PARAGRAPH (and only 1 paragraph!!) describing your MAIN storyline, without giving away the ending.  Not the many subplots, not the scenery, not a description of your main character's feelings, but a paragraph teaser (in present tense!) like what would be written on the back of your book if it were in a book store.

"The Book Thief"
By her brother's graveside, Liesel Meminger's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow.  It is The Gravedigger's Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery.  So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read.  Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife library, wherever there are books to be found.  But these are dangerous times.  When Liesel's foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up and closed down.

- This is the main character, this is their main conflict, this is what could go wrong...The End.

That's it.
I'm not joking.
It is the MOST IMPORTANT part of your query, so if you blow the paragraph, I don't care if you're as eloquent as a dignitary, no agent is going to ask for a full, or even a partial submission.

And that's the truth.

I highly urge anybody who wants to learn more to follow the above link and take the class about queries.

It could literally change your life. [pun intended]

In the meantime, good luck to my querying friends.


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