Query Me That…


Okay, so in my last post I said I was going to let my query letter sit for another week before I submitted it for a critique from Writer’s Digest Second Draft Service. I did let it sit for a week then something happened, the likes of which have been turning writers into maniacs since writing became a thing. When I went back to read the beloved query before submitting it, I realized something very disturbing…

It sucked.

Yep, all that work, all those rewrites, all those incarnations and I thought I finally had it annnnnnnnnd…it sucked. Ah, the observational power provided by time and space. Let this be a friendly reminder to always let your work sit for a little while before moving on to the next step. You may just find that it actually sucks.

Okay, so that was fine. I got drunk and cried for a while, then woke up the next day, headed to my office, sat down with all of the printouts of my many, many query attempts and asked myself, why does it suck? This is what I came up with:

1. It was too long. Only a page, yes, but way past the 250 words Query Shark recommends.

2. I was trying to explain my book. In my last blog I whined and complained about how hard it is to cram your entire book into one tiny query letter. Want to know why that is hard to do? Because you can’t do that, that’s why. Only an idiot would try to do that.

3. I was trying to outline the book instead of get the agent interested in reading it. This is what stymied me from the get go, too much focus on plot, not enough why would I care about this plot.

I started from scratch and dumped all the vague notions of a format I had in my little brain. I went and read the back of a few books that are in my book’s genre, picked three I thought were really enticing and tried to go for that vibe instead. Now, God help us all, I think I have something that reads like the back of a book, 288 words and it’s been a week and it doesn’t suck yet.

This was a much better approach for me. The blurb on the back of a book tries to convince the reader to buy the book very succinctly, and that’s what you want an agent to do as well.  I cannot stress the value of the Query Shark archives through this process and strongly encourage anyone attempting a query letter to read through all of them. Now, assuming (mwahahaha!) that my query can survive one more night, tomorrow I will submit it for critique and see if I’m finally onto something, or still clueless.

Onward and upward!




About eemoxam

I work at the library and write stuff because books are cool. I like dogs.

Posted on February 1, 2015, in Articles, Editing, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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