Saturday, May 03, 2008

Query...we don't need no stinkin' query

That's what I want to hear from agents and editors. But alas, it will never happen!

In order to catch an agent or editor's attention, most want to see you pitch your work in a 1-2 paragraph query letter. The pitch usually reads like the back blurb on a book. If you have writing credits, awards, etc, you add them to your query, also. Which means your query better be damn good, perfect, awesome. Of course, there are some agents/editors who will also ask you to send a writing sample along with the query, so you get a second chance to draw their interest even if your query letter sucked.

It's the pitch part of the query letter that's tough to write. You have to condense your entire novel, in my case a novel of 108K words, into 5 or 6 sentences, and make your novel sound like the agent/editor hit the lottery with your book. Yikes! Can we say intimidating? You bet.

So I started my query for THIRTEEN in early March with 3 boring pitch paragraphs. After a million revisions, I've reduced it to 5 sentences showing who, what, where, when and why. I think I've nailed it. My 5 sentences are engaging, exhibit my voice for the novel and contain all the elements. At least I hope. Gaaaa!

There are tons of agents, editors and authors who give great advice on how to write a query. Some agents & experts will even rip them apart...um...I mean critique them on their blogs, DearAuthor and Query Shark come to mind. There are various ways of writing your query. Over the last couple weeks, I've looked at samples of selling queries that the authors graciously posted on the web. No two were alike in style. Which goes to show that if you have an awesome, fresh idea and can get that across in your query, then it doesn't matter how your query reads. Does it??? (Grammer, punctuation and professionalism aside).

There comes a time when you just have to give it wings. Test out the air currents and see what response you get with 5-10 agents. And that's what I'm gonna do.

Agents be forewarned...THIRTEEN is coming.

Up next: my adventures in Synopsis writing. Another necessary evil.

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