The Proper Query
So, the query. This is probably one of the most important parts of the “getting published” process. This is your first impression. Your first chance to knock their socks off and, trust me, if those socks aren’t knocked off you are not getting signed.
Your number one objective, when writing your query, should be to make the agent/ publisher care enough about your story to want…no… need to read more. They should feel like an outward force, so strong and unbearable, is pushing, torturing them to read more of the story you just spent a lifetime perfecting.
Usually the publisher will have a certain requirement for your query, like it has to be no more than one page, and you have to follow those requirements to a T, otherwise they won’t even consider you. I know that sounds harsh but it’s true. So, everything that I am writing is kind of like a general outline to get you started because the publisher might want, like I said previously, something different than I suggest. The PUBLISHER’S word always trumps mine, just so you know.
Anyways, here are some tips and notes that are important to keep in mind when crafting the perfect query.
Number one: Be DELIBERATE. After you write the beginning portion, which is almost like the logistics of the story like page number/ word count, audience, and presumed market for your book, where will it been seeing stores, you have to write the summary of your story. Agents want to see that you are a good enough writer to sound “deliberate” about the submission process.
Deliberate means that you are straight to the point. State what the beginning, middle, and end is in short but flavorful sentences. They want you to get to the point and not drone on and on about every little detail about your story which, as writers, can be very difficult. You also, however, want to be careful because they don’t want you to only tell them, they also want you to show them.
I have found that the best way to do this is to look back at your outline that you made before you even wrote the story. How did you shorten the plot then? If you wrote a “cover jacket” summary, that would be even better. If you did that I would say copy and paste that into the query because you made that to draw in readers right? Well, that is how you want to treat the agent. You want to treat them as a prospective reader who needs to be convinced that your writing is literally the best.
Also, shockingly, you need to make sure that you mention a bit about each of the main characters. Don’t go into logistics about each one, but be sure to describe them enough so that way the agent hates your antagonist and feels for your protagonist. You want to “show not tell”.
This simply means that you describe your character in a way that doesn’t need their exact height or eye color. You slowly work your way to that if it is important enough to put in the query. However, I would refrain from describing physical aspects of characters in your query letter.
Basically let the story speak for itself. You wrote it and obviously feel that it is the best thing since sliced bread and, if it is, it will draw your prospective agent in and hopefully win you the contract.
The last and final part of your query letter is the BIO section. Here you want to talk about yourself a bit. They want to know how long you have been writing, have you published anything before, what is your education (college if you have graduated high school, if you have not graduated high school don’t add this part), and what are the most important things about you, what do they need to know?
When I Wrote my first query letter I rewrote it about fifteen times before sending off to face the mass of publishers and agents. However, I learned that rewriting it once or twice isn’t bad, but it can only get so good. So, I guess what I am trying to say, is trust your gut. Your story is your story and just because someone rejects you doesn’t mean you have to rewrite your query letter, the story probably wasn’t right for the agent and/ or publisher.
So I hope this article helps you guys get started on writing your query!
If you have any questions, please post them i the comment section below and I will answer them as soon as I can 🙂
This is your fellow BlogAholic Signing off!
Oh, here are some Query Examples. Enjoy!