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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about some helpful websites that might help you through the torture of SYNOPSIS writing. Today, I'd like to pass along some links for the other torture chamber, better known as writing THE QUERY LETTER. Dun-ta-Dun... (In case you don't get that, it's supposed to be the sound of peril.) No really, query writing is not that bad, especially if you do your research. The first impression an agent has of you is based on your query letter, so you better put as much effort into it as you did your manuscript. That being said, I'd like to pass on a few good places to start. Of course, there is the infamous Elana Johnson, brilliant author of FROM THE QUERY TO THE CALL. Her formula for the query letter simplifies the whole process into something understandable. Then, there is the notorious Janet Reid, better known as The Query Shark. Her query template provides the low down on what an agent really wants to know about your manuscript. My recent favorite is Jill Corcoran's information about her specific likes and dislikes when it comes to the query letter. And, finally, for entertainment purposes, you should check out my query blunders from almost two years ago. Yeah, they are laughable! In addition to these sites, I want to stress the importance of researching particular agents before querying them. Each agent has their own preferences when it comes to receiving queries. Hope this was somewhat helpful to all of those out there in the query trenches. Anyone have any other helpful sites to share?

18 comments:

Melissa said...

These are all great resources. Plus Querytracker.net is very useful.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I'm with you. Researching for me has made all the difference or I'm hoping it will. ;)

Elana really does rock!
~ Wendy

strugglingwriter said...

Good info Susan. Thanks!

L. T. Host said...

Totally agree on Querytracker.net. You can use it for free, but the "Premium" package is only $25 for a YEAR and is well worth it so far. It stores all your data and who you've queried and is pretty convenient to use.

Gosh, I sound like I work for them. I don't, I just think it makes it easier! Though to be fair, it's not really much that a well-organize Excel spreadsheet couldn't solve. But it's pretty handy to have it all in one place, and be able to search for agents at any time.

T. Anne said...

One day when I look upon my life in retrospect I think I'll be able to say the query process is one of the most trying times in my life. It is a hurdle that can make or break you emotionally as a writer. It's never a good thing until you get the call.

Laura Pauling said...

All the blogging agents have posts on their sidebars about queries and all are helpful. I loved reading the succesful query series on Guide to Lit. Agents because it show that everything we know about good writing has to be applied to the query letter too. Tight sentences, strong verbs, voice...And I love seeing that it really comes down to story idea!

Kathryn Magendie said...

I'm just stopping by to say hello - I had a link on queries a while back but danged if I remember what or who it was - and now that I think of it - I wonder if I even posted it *laughing*

Happy almost Thanksgiving!

Elizabeth McKenzie said...

I don't care how many times I read about query letters and synopsizes, I can't get my head around it. It took several thousand pages to write the ms. Well, it is what is is after all. Thanks for the tips, very helpful.

Suzanne Casamento said...

"The other torture chamber." LOL! So well put. You make great points about querying - especially the researching. Thanks!

Elana Johnson said...

Aw, thank you! You are so kind! When I was querying, I liked to hang out in forums with other querying people. That gave me a good support system.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Elana book is awesome. That helped me huge time. Of course, having other people crit your query also works wonders. :D

Susan Fields said...

I'm going to bookmark this post for when I get to that stage. I've written queries before, but it's a whole new challenge each time.

Jill Kemerer said...

I've made many query blunders myself, and I learned so much by talking to other writers. One thing that surprised me was how often we as authors inaccurately label the genre we write. It's so important to nail the genre in the query letter!

Heather Sunseri said...

Thanks for the links, Susan. I definitely think research is key and being truly ready before you query.

Carolyn V. said...

I need these so much! Well, really soon. Thanks for the great links! =D

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

You're so kind and thoughtful. Thanks for the great links.

Nancy said...

Sounds like good advice. Thanks for the info.

Jackee said...

Loved your blunders! They are ones I'm sure I've done as well if I could remember. :o)

I love Elana's help with queries. Jodi Meadows had some great advice on the WriteOnCon blog as well. Check out the archives if you missed it.

Thanks for sharing, Susan!!