Querying: every writer’s worst nightmare
I mean, I couldn’t even put an exclamation point in the title.
Unless you can hire someone to write one for you (Wait. Is that a thing? If so, contact me.), querying is an inevitable process if you want your book traditionally published. I’ve been scouring the interwebs in search of resources for this process, and I’m amazed at how much info is out there.
One problem I’m finding is how often advice is contradicted. So which advice do you follow? *If you’re wondering the answer to that question, it’s not here. Because I don’t know.*
I started querying I’m Only Me back in November, and honestly, I may have jumped the gun. I don’t mean my manuscript wasn’t ready–although it has improved since then–but my query letter itself wasn’t ready. The harsh reality is this: your book could be the next big thing, but if your query isn’t up to snuff, no one will even bother with your samplepages. (Except there was one agent I read who said he doesn’t even read the queries and just goes straight to the sample chapters. See what I mean? Who do you believe?)
I’m not going to write my own tips because I don’t have any that you haven’t already heard, nor am I going to compile a list of dos and don’ts. What I am going to do is provide you with resources–good resources–so you don’t have to waste your time. I’ve wasted mine for you.
Query Shark Chances are, if you’ve even heard of querying, you already know about this blog. This is a fantastic resource, especially if you want to know what not to do. Agent Janet Reid critiques queries and provides feedback for the world to see. My biggest problem with the query examples posted here is their format. Nine times out a ten, you will see a query format as 3 main paragraphs: 1) book info (title, word count, genre), 2) blurb, and 3) bio. But these examples start with the blurb and have the title, etc. at the end. If anyone has insight on this, please enlighten me. If you watch any of the videos I’ve included below, they don’t tell you to start with the blurb. Neither do most of the articles I’ve read. So…beats me.
Manuscript Wishlist I highly recommend this one. When I was making my spreadsheet of agents to query, which I also recommend, I used this place primarily. You can search for agents by genre, and then read what they’re looking for. Great resource.
Agent Query I haven’t spent much time on this site. And when I say much time, I mean, ANY time, but I’m including it because it’s often referenced by others. I’m such a cheater! From the looks of it, it’s similar to Manuscript Wishlist.
Agent Query Connect Part of the Agent Query site, this links you to a forum, and this particular post is full of successful queries. If you’re like me, you love examples! Check out some other threads while you’re there. You can get your query critiqued here as well.
As of 6/16/17, when you search “query letter” on YouTube, you’ll get 29,800 results. I know there must be a hidden gem in that pile–must like my query in the slush pile–but for now, here’s just a sampling of the videos I’ve found helpful.
*If you can spare the time, this video is worth a watch. Some vital info in here from agents. If you’ve always wanted to go to a writing conference, but haven’t yet, this is the next best thing. (Not remotely, but it’s still a good video. 😀 )
*Short and sweet!
*Practical and easy-to-follow tips.
*This one is cool. Watch as an agent reads queries and tells you why they don’t work. More examples of what not to do.
*Entertaining and informative.
*Tips from an actual agent! And her accent is awesome.
So, there you go. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you should be. 😀
To anyone interested, I have dedicated a separate page to my own Query Journey. I will be posting all of these links to that page as well.
If you’re in the hell that is querying, I wish you the best of luck. To anyone about to start the hell that is querying, make sure you’re ready. And I don’t mean that you’re up for the challenge. I’m talking about the state of both your manuscript and your letter. Do not send your query until it’s the best you can make it. This is a slow process and you have to be patient. Don’t send off your query because you want to get the ball rolling. We all do. But once you’ve been rejected by an agent, that’s it, barring exceptions. So, please, do yourself a favor and wait until the time is right.
(I only call it hell, because queries are tough to write, and because it’s a waiting game for responses, mostly form rejections or nothing at all. So it’s not exactly Disneyland.)