Thursday, October 21, 2010

Query Letters. AAAAAH!

So after, what? A million year haitus from the web, I am finally back. Yes, here I am. Still alive and kicking, somehow.

I've finished the, whatever, 10th (?) revision/editing of my book, WHAT THE WORLD FORGOT. Now it is on to the query...I hope. And this part, seriously, if it doesn't scare you out of your pants and make you lose bodily functions of some kind, then you are probably dead. And that's okay, you can star in your own Vampiress sitcom or play a background zombie in the next Halloween movie. But I don't talk to zombies or vampires, they are just too query letters. So, to the rest of you out there struggling just like me, I am talking to you.

I find that the best way to get rid of the 'Query Blues' is to be prepared. Now, that may not stop you from popping tranquilizer pills every four hours, but it will help you write a better query. I for one have a plan.

After researching query after query, advice columns, books, and watching as other query letters are being torn apart, eaten, and digested by people who 'know', I decided what helped me more than reading a bunch of notsogreat ones, was to find letters that actually worked, that landed an agent. Just like reading published books in your genre helps you to write a better novel, I think reading query, good query letters helps, too. Now I know these are hard to find, but they're out there. Type 'Query Letter' into google and you'll find 'em.

One of the best places I have looked was Nathan Bransford's site. He has a few great queries posted there and tells you how and why they work for him. Not only is this post (and his other posts about query writing) insightful, but they are just gosh darn entertaining! Mr. Bransford cracks me up! I could read anything he writes all day long.

Now, other than being inspired by others, you really should know what goes into a query letter. I personally have written about a million of these. All very different. Each time you write one you find different ways of expressing your story, and the shorter you make this, the better. I remember in the old days when I wrote a few, thought they were great because I read the instruction manual and that seemed to be good enough. Now, I got a few people ask for fulls from me, but I think I could have done better. I never found representation (which is good because my book really sucked at that point)

So, do this with me peeps. Practice practice practice...then practice some more, read good queries and then let that baby go in hopes that it will land a superb agent.


Now I just need to take my own advice... =)

read, study, read, study, write, read, study, read, study, write ... repeat...


Melissa said...

GREAT post and welcome back!

Querying (the prospect of) terrifies me. I'm not there yet, not nearly but I will be, soon! (I hope).

Reading positive stuff always works better than the negative.

Milo James Fowler said...

Bransford's site is where I found the best query letter advice, and by following it, I've snagged the attention of a handful of agents. No takers yet, though...

Kathryn Packer Roberts said...

Thanks Melissa. And good luck Milo. I know, it's such a painful process. I wonder if there will ever be a time when I think my MS will be good enough. I think I am so used to editing and revising that it's become my comfort zone now =).