Thursday, October 11, 2012

HWCAC: Query tips (IMHO)


I have a confession to make... I have not yet written a "successful" query. BUT, please do not let that turn you off from my opinions.  I can critique one like a mother F.  (Yes, I said Mother
Some of you may ask, how did you get published without a query? Well, it is because I am just that awesome. No, not really, but it is fun to pretend. I was one of the winners of the Nano-virtuosis contest 2011, hosted by Curiosity Quills. Although I did not have an official query, I would like to think that I had a winning entry.

With that being said, I understand queries. I was a secret judge for one of the most popular literary contests on the interwebz, GUTGAA 2012.... (hopefully I can state that here). As one of the judges, I was required to read through 30+ queries and cast my votes on which ones struck my attention. I think I can confidently give pointers and let writers know what I think works and what doesn't.

Writing a query may be one of the hardest things you have ever
written but it may be one of the most important!
Remember: The main point of your query is to introduce the publisher/agent to your novel and give them juicy details that makes YOUR story stand out from the thousands and thousands of others who are also trying to become a published author. They should fall in love with your story and feel the same way as you. 

Courtney's 6 Query Tips

1. Point out the main ideas of your novel - remember this is your chance to allow the reader to enter into the world you created. You want your work to stand out beyond all others. Sounds easy right? How is your novel different from all others? Hit the MAIN points, they are important!
(I read somewhere that if you start with the main points and embellish around it, you will have a strong foundation for your query. I wish I could recall the original source because I thought it was great advice.)

2. Wordiness - Sometimes it is easier to write what you mean. When you read a paragraph and find double uses of words or whole sentence that can be cut without changing your meaning, more than likely, they aren't necessary. Remember main points! We do not need to know what color shirt your main character is wearing or the names of each of their family members in the story. Those details aren't that important for your query (although they may be for your story) and can turn the reader off with a snap. Some authors prose is beautiful but if it doesn't give us any information or give a nice transition between your main points, then I say cut it!

3. List the Name, Length, and Type of novel you are submitting - Don't leave the acquistioner guessing what genre or length. If you have a 200k novel it is nice to let the publisher know.
An example of this is:
After the Woods is a completed 70,000-word Urban Fantasy novel for young adults.
Also make sure you are submitting your work in the genre the agent/acquisitioner publishes. It would be a waste of your time to submit a horror novel to a strictly romance line but I think you get it. :)

4. Avoid Cliches - There is nothing that makes your novel lose its pizazz and individuality quicker than using a cliche. "Writing on the wall, never a dull moment, At the end of the day,  The bottom line, In the nick of time," those are just a few examples.

5. Length of your Query should not be the length of your novel - The best queries I have read on the internet have been approximately two-three paragraphs. There is only so much information that should be put into a could bore a reader at 5 pages and that is before the first page is even read.  Agents and Aquistioners receive hundreds and hundreds of queries.  Remember your main points? lol.

6. Proof your Query - it is important for you to submit the strongest query possible.  There is nothing worst than reading misspelled words, incorrect usages, or run-on sentences. It gives the impression that the author didn't put much thought into their query. PLUS, it is your first impression. Momma was right about first impressions! I know it is hard to keep looking over the same paragraph.... Trust me! My suggestion is to find someone else to read it over. If you have a critique partner, send it to them. They have fresh eyes and will more than likely be able to point out issues you may have overlooked.  When I say someone... I don't mean your mom or best friend. Find a person that will be honest and doesn't think you are the greatest thing since sliced bread although you may be :)

**Hopefully you found those tips helpful! Cannot wait to read all of your queries!**
If you don't want to take my word for it, below are a million (not really but a lot) links to help with your query.

Winning Query Letter Samples

How to Query an Agent
How to Write a Dynamite Query Letter
The Art of the Query
How to Write an Attention-getting Query Letter
The Art of the Query
The Complete Nobody's Guide to Query Letters
The Query (Or Proposal) Letter
Writing a Query Letter That Sells
How to Write a Query
Master The Art Of The Query Letter
How to Write a Dynamite Query Letter
How to Write a Query Letter -- For Articles
Writing Effective Queries
How to write a query letter
Writing A Good Query Letter
Sample Query - pdf
Query Letter Workshop - pdf
Demystifying the Query Letter
Query Letter FAQ

 Master the art of the query letter
 How to write a query letter
 Quick Query Letter Checklist 
Writing Your Cover Letter 
Submission Primer 101
 Perfect Query Letters
 What should be in a query letter
 Preparing E-mail Queries
 The Last Query 
Email Query DOs and DON'Ts 
A Terrific Query Letter
 How To Write Great Queries
 The Novel Query 
Query for an Agent 
Writing a Query Letter That Sells



  1. These are fabuloso tips and the links, well the few I have looked over, are wonderously awesome:0

    I hope your vacation has been marvelous:)

    I'm going to visit my daughter for the weekend, so I'm hyped up on excitement!!

    Thanks for your help on my query. I posted a totally brand new one, written from the male MC POV. I'm not for it's working, either, but I'm not giving up!!

    1.'re welcome! The vacation is amazing. I am a little sad that I only have a few more days until I'll be pushed back into reality. I will have to check out the new query! It's a work in progress :) enjoy your weekend! You deserve it!

  2. I most certainly will be using your suggestions for my query. This was my first attempt at using Ashton's POV for the query, so I'm glad it worked out and sounded okay.
    Thank you for your help:)


Your comments are always appreciated! <3



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