Query Query Oh How I hate you

Posted by on Jun 7, 2010 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

So I did it, I wrote my query. Tight, concise, to the point, and garbage. Okay, so maybe that’s a bit extreme, but still my fellow critiquers suggest it needs work. However, I’m not so sure it does.

I think the problem is that I’ve revised, revised, and revised, to try to meet everyone’s suggestions. That is not how it needs to be done, or so I’m learning. Having the thoughts and opinions of fellow writers is an invaluable service that I don’t think should be easily overlooked, however, everyone has their own opinions and like many things in this life, opinions differ from one person to the next.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve been revision so much to meet everybody’s suggestions, that the query is no longer my own. Everytime I think it’s complete, I get  peoples thoughts who mention suggestions, and so I begin to revise again. Now my query is not only full of other peoples thoughts, but I’ve also lost a lot, if not all, the voice from my query. So what does this mean? Time to revise!!!

Actually I will not be revising again, instead, I’m taking some of the other queries I’ve written and reworked them into one single query that I think will work. All this time I think I’ve waited for people to say “YES YOU GOT IT. THAT’S A PERFECT QUERY” when indeed it may or may not be perfect, but regardless it isn’t up to them, it’s up to the agents. So here’s what I plan to do.

I’m going to take this new query I’ve written and start submitting. I’m ready, I know I am. I’ve revised my manuscript nearly a dozen times, in the last revision I trimmed over 10,000 words from it and its smoother than ever before. I’m sending out a wave of queries later this week, and we’ll see the response. If I don’t get any requests for more, than obviously it needs to be reworked, but if I keep revising acceptable queries that may hook them to want more pages I’ll be left with nothing but a string of plot points and that isn’t what a query is.

A query is a single page, no more no less, that has to get three points across. First, who is the main character(s). Second, what is the conflict. Third, what’s at stake. Answer those three questions, tie them all together in a tight, flowing lettering, and query away. All it is, is a sample to entice ‘said’ agent into wanting more.

Have I done that? I think so. But do I have the perfect query? I’m not sure there is such a thing. Why you ask? For the same reasons I can’t please everybody critiquing my query letters and pages. Because every agent is a different person and each persons opinions vary.

So remember, if you’re struggling with your query letter, and you can’t seem to get it right, ask yourself if it answers those three questions posted above. If your answer is yes, ask yourself if it flows. Is it as tight and concise as you can make it without taking the voice out of your letter? Yes you say, then ask yourself this. Will it make your readers want more? Well that last question isn’t really yours to answer but you get the point.

So wish me luck on my querying business and for all those still working on their letters:

Take a step back, don’t get inside you own head and relax. You know this story better than anyone else, you’re the one who wrote it! So sit down, work it out, and make it interesting.

Happy querying!


  1. Matthew:

    We are so alike its freaking frightening, I have come to the conclusion if I second guess myself too much I will never take the leap into my attempt to get publish, I have been where you are now, and I decided the same as you, enough already I have to take the risk. When I had wrote my old query letter sent it with the word count of 122,300 a lot of rejections poured in my inbox, when I decided to revise my query after the numerous times( past year and a half has retained an professional editor to help) few days later I got two agents interested in viewing my partial/and full. So I have come to the final thought its all luck, one agent will love your query, and you may never know why rejections occur it is a subjective business , I have put a frozen barrier over my heart; some rejections are brutal but you have to push on. Good for you that you are sending it, I wish you a load of luck, now I must query away, an agent is interested in query and first chapter.

    Keisha =D

  2. That's great news. Have your actually recieved some rejections that were anything but form? I mean I know some agents will offer a bit of advice if they think the story has promise but isn't for them, but have you gotten any bad rejections where the agent was rude or something?

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