The first edit of Light and Dark is complete. I’ve made all the changes my critique partner suggested. I’m tweaking a secondary character and waiting for my friend (a reading/writing prof) to edit for grammar, but that will hopefully be done in a couple of months. Which means query time is closing in on me.
I hate it. Yes, I know being able to narrow down 100,000 words into 250 is a skill every writer must have, but that doesn’t mean I have like the process. Writing a query is HARD. And intimidating. So much is riding on that one sheet of paper. If it’s not good enough to grab an agent or editor, it doesn’t matter how great our book may be. They’re not going to read it.
The good news is that there’s a ton of great resources out there about writing queries. One of my favorite is Queryshark. This isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s a great way to learn what works and what doesn’t.
Nelson Literary Agency has a great section on query letters here. Thanks to @JenniferKHale for the link.
Voice is a huge part of a successful query and one of the hardest elements to master. From The Write Angle has a great post on that here.
Scott Eagan of Greyhaus Literary Agency blogged about making your pitch and hook sell your novel, something the majority of query letters fail to do.
The wonderful Jody Hedlund talks about query letters and what to do after you send them here.
Finally, Kaye Dacus has a great post about the technical aspects of writing a query letter.
After reading about 957 different blogs and articles on query letters, I’ve discovered the following:
Voice is key. Write the query in the same tone as your novel, preferably the main character.
Your hook has to actually HOOK the agent. Think about when you’re browsing the shelves or flipping through the marketplace on your e-reader. What makes you want to read the book? What are the parts of the blurb that make you download the book? That’s the hook.
Make sure you include the title, word count and genre. One or two sentences at most. Keep it at one page.
Make it personal. Do your research and make it clear you know what the agent you’re querying represents. Don’t waste their time by sending something generic.
So that’s what I’ve got so far. I’m no expert. I’m just sharing what I’ve learned with all of you. I just wrote my first query letter yesterday. My awesome critique partner Catie Rhodes likes it, so we’ll see what happens with it. I’m sure we’ll be doing some more tweaking.
And that brings me to my final point: make sure you have a critique partner or an honest writing friend who will help you with your query letter. Just as they are with your MS, critique partners are a major part of creating a strong query letter.
Where are you all at in your writing process? Have you started a query letter? Do you have any advice for new writers?