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Querying the impossible Query…

Yep, no hiding now. It’s on to a brief discussion on queries.  The query is a loathsome beast, not as dreaded as the Synopsis, but a close runner up. Now, you can go out and google all sorts of interesting information on creating the perfect query, or what goes into a query.  I’m not so sure there’s such an animal as “the perfect query”.  Regardless it is a very vital part of the whole getting yourself published process.

Let’s look at what this little nugget is suppose to do for you.  The main purpose of a query is to SNAG THE ATTENTION of the person reading it.  You want that editor/agent/pub house to gasp in delighted shock and think “OMG! I MUST HAVE THIS STORY!” After which, they rush to their phone/email and quickly demand more.  That’s a realistic expectation, right?  Um, yeah time to re-evaluate here.

No matter how great your story is, I can almost guarentee those you’re looking to impress have already seen it. Discouraging though that may sound, it’s truth. But here’s the good part of that.  From talking to agents/editors and reading numerous articles, you must not give up hope.  A unique voice,  a new twist on an old idea, an intriguing story…all of these are still in demand.

Now you have to get your query to stand out.  Don’t put it on tie-dye paper, drench it in some sweetly sick smelling perfume, have a singing stripper deliver it to the agent/editor’s office (though they may enjoy the show and remember you, they may also seek a restraining order).  Instead, make sure the very first line, aka your hook, sinks its barbed teeth in deep and won’t let them wiggle off your snare.  Make that first line exciting, intriguing, something that will leave whoever is reading it, wanting more.  Even more important, make sure it stays true to your writing and the story. If you’re doing a humorous mystery, it could be “Thanks to the dark and stormy night, there was no avoiding the vat of syrup that turned Millie’s life into a sticky situation.”

Yes, I’m highly aware of how corny that sounds, but you get the point. Besides, there is really no way to write a great hook in less than thirty seconds.  Although, now that I’ve written that, this story could go places…

Never mind, back to our point–query writing. As hard as it is to create, you need

  1. Hook
  2. Your blurb–this is how you keep your query quarry’s attention.  You tell them what your story is, who’s involved, what’s at stake and leave them wondering…will they succeed or not?
  3. Your book info–this means title, word count, genre, is it stand alone or one in a possibly series?
  4. Your publishing credentials.  Now, if you haven’t published before, have you been nominated for any awards, even if it’s in non-fiction writing, list it.  Won any contests? Tell them.  If you’re published, you know the drill–titles, publisher, and when.
  5. Something unique about you–think one line bio.  Set yourself apart, but don’t lie.  Everyone has that one thing that’s just them. For me–I live in a testosterone household with three Star Wars geeks and a 100 lb. lab–find yours and use it.
  6. Contact information–they need to get ahold of you to get more of your story, so make sure you give them every available chance–email, mailing address, phone number and your name.
  7. Be polite–thanking them for taking the time to review your request, not only is it nice (and my momma made sure I understood politeness) but think about it, aren’t you grateful they did take the time?

There you have, the basics of a query letter.  Now comes the fun part–hit that send button and get your story out there. No one will be able to appreciate your wonderfulness if you don’t share it.  Take a chance, risk a little and the rewards might be more than you hoped for!

Best of luck, guys!


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  1. When We Write Letters, Part VII | A Word or More
  2. “Lessons Learned in Getting Published” by Charles Ameringer | Authors Helping Authors Resource Site

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