Thursday, November 5, 2009

Got Query Queries?

I did too, but not anymore!  Because...

I participated in a totally awesome Query Letter training workshop today!!  It was given by Jane Friedman of Writer's Digest, and I learned SO much. (There are several other webinars coming up and if the quality matches up to the one I took today - I suggest you check them out.)

I now feel completely prepared to query.  (Except for the teensy tiny fact, of course, that my manuscript isn't yet complete.) 

Participants were allowed to e-mail drafts of their queries beforehand.  During the workshop Jane critiqued each one and gave a wealth of information about the things that make query letters successful.  Right now, I'm kind of on cloud 9 because guess what - SHE LIKED MY QUERY!!  She even said I had a "killer" final line.  (And before you think it, no, that didn't make me biased about the quality of the presentation.  Even if she'd marked through every line of my text, I still would be raving about the workshop.)

Here are some of the things I took away from the workshop about queries:
  • Keep your query tight - BRIEF IS BETTER
    • Only highlight the very key points of your manuscript
  • It's okay to leave an agent guessing - you want to leave them wanting more
    • Don't tell the entire story - or what happens in the end - the agent should want to ask for more information, not be told everything up front
  • If you're a part of an association, or writing group, tell the agent in your credentials - it shows that you're putting time and effort into your writing career
And the hook is the most crucial aspect to the query.  Here are some things I took away about the hook:
  • The hook should introduce the agent to your protagonist, by name.  It also needs to tell the agent what the protagonist's challenge is, (be it change or conflict).
  • The hook should be kept to the point - conciseness is really important.
    • Think about reading a movie summary on a Netflix envelope... that's how short the hook should be.
  • Ideally, the hook should be 1 paragraph - no more than 150 words, and
  • it should comprise of at least 75% of the query.
Can you break the rules?  Of course, every rule can be broken - as long as the letter is crafted with enough skill to be worth the rule break :)

Obviously, I'm no expert on the matter - as I have yet to send any queries out.  There are tons of other, great resources out there.  But I still wanted to share some of what I learned!  (There was a lot more, but I don't want to give away Jane's material - you should DEFINITELY take her workshop if/when it's offered again!)

PS I'll totally show you my query draft if you want to see it - it's just that I recently downloaded Paint.Net and am having SO much fun playing with all of the effects :) 

♥ me


  1. Haha now I really really want to see your query draft, and I want to force you to read mine :P

  2. That's awesome! I'll definitely keep an eye out for another one. Thanks for letting us know how much you liked it. And, yeah, I definitely want to see your query. :)

  3. I'm with Alexandra. I really really really want to see your query letter!

    Informative post. Good stuff :)

  4. Alexandra - sent!

    Jenni & Q, thanks :) I'll e-mail it to ya - just DM me your e-mail address if you want to see :)

  5. Sara- Thank you so much for following my blog and for the wonderful comment. And thank you for this info-I will hopefully need it in a couple months. I did an online query workshop which hit a lot of the same points, but you can never have too much help. And I am now a follower (though that puts you at 31--an ugly uneven number. Oh well) :)

  6. Y'know, there's a ridiculous amount of information out there for writers, but there's no substitute for having a professional cast an eye on your work and offer feedback. Even better if the feedback is mostly positive, which means that you're obviously on the right track. Congrats!

  7. If nothing else you have to at least show us the killer final line. I love Jane! Thanks for sharing the wisdom.

  8. Oh man, I will definitely need to take that. I'm aving serious concerns over my query. Thanks for your post. It's rockin, as usual. Oh, and must now see your query!!!!! I'm dying here! AHHHH!


Yay! I love when you have things to add :)