Tag Archives | Query letters

And the winners are…. (And some thoughts on blogging.)

Wow! What a week. I had a ton of fun working my way through the blog hop and getting to know my fellow Indelible authors a little better.

Welcome to all the new followers on the blog, twitter, and through readers! And a big thank you to everyone who posted on their blogs and tweeted and supported us.

And now onto the winners!

The winner of THE LIAR SOCIETY is Denise Z.!

The winner of an Indelibles author’s ebook is Susan @ the Book Bag!

And if you haven’t checked the Indelibles blog, Chris Fenimore won the Kindle Fire. Yay!

And now let’s talk about blog reading trends. And you.

What makes you click through?

Are there certain hot topics that seem to take up most of your blog reading time?

I definitely read the blogs in my feed even if I don’t comment on them. But when I’m scanning Twitter, I go through phases.

At one point, I was reading all about query letters. Trust me, I don’t need to read another one as long as I live. There cannot be new info on those things that I don’t already know. (Now knowing and applying are completely different things.)

I’ve been through the story structure phase; and, of course, the result of all I learned and how I learned to apply it to my writing came out on the blog in the form of Plot Busters.

Last spring and summer, I was reading all about the pros and cons of traditional publishing and self-publishing and agents becoming publishers. I was fascinated! And that all came out on the blog this past summer.

So much is changing.

So much has changed.

But in a lot of ways, some aspects of writing have stayed the same.

Most recently, I’ve been reading about formatting, coding, and HTML. Oh and throw in marketing and promoting for good measure.

What about you? What have you been reading and does it influence what you blog about?

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Let’s talk about no response means no.

More and more agents are hanging out the same shingle:

“No reponse means no.”

So, when you query them, if they are not interested in your work, you will never hear back from them.

For some, that can leave doubt. Did the query get lost in cyber space? Lost to spam? They sit and wonder and it might possibly drive them crazy.

Positive rejections can be nice. But they are still rejections. I guess for some writers, a rejection offers closure. They can move on to the next batch of agents on their list.

Honestly, it doesn’t bother me at all when agents don’t respond(if that’s their policy). I don’t know why. I guess for me, it’s harder to receive the form rejection than not to hear.

How do you feel about the no response means no? Does it bother you?

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If I can…

If I can single-handedly kill a humongous hornet in my house every spring…then I can handle rejection.

If I can enter the basement where the mice and squirrels scurry about…then I can handle rejection.

If I can apologize to my children when I lose my patience…then I can handle rejection.

If I can teach all my children to read…then I can kill my darlings.

If I can make tomato soup with a bunch of first graders even though I had no clue how to use the fancy onion chopper…then I can kill my darlings.

If I can pack up and spend a day at the ocean with toddlers (even though my parents helped)…then I can kill my darlings.

If I can clean out my bedroom closet and give a quarter of my clothes and shoes to goodwill…then I can send more queries out.

If I can take the high road when dealing with friends…then I can send more queries out.

If I can still watch American Idol, even though Adam Lambert is not on the show this year…then I can send out more queries.

If I can spend a whole year writing and revising a manuscript… then I can be brave enough to send out queries, accept rejection, kill my darlings, and then send out more queries.

And if I can do it…so can you!

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The Great Query Letter Contradiction

I looked for a shortcut. I wanted a black and white formula that would guide me to writing the perfect query letter that no one could resist. Guess what?

I never found it. (If I do, I’ll let you know.)

And that’s because the truth finally seeped through my thick skull. The query letter is a reflection of writing skill. I didn’t believe that at first. I thought, oh, if only someone would read the first chapter, they wouldn’t care about the query letter. Again, I was wrong. Because skill with word choice, humor, sentence structure, and grammar do shine through in a letter.

So first, I tried the short and sweet approach. If I made my pitch paragraph 3-4 sentences – I’d be in partial-or-full-requesting heaven. Not exactly.

Then I read winning queries and my feathers got a little ruffled. The experts lied! Some queries had 3 or 4 paragraphs to explain their summary. These writers broke the rules! Time to protest! Unfair!

And that’s when I realized that a query letter is no different than any other writing rule. I’d have to learn the rules before I could break them.

Can I write the perfect query letter? No. But I’ve learned not to be so strict with rules. A query letter needs details, strong verbs, word choice that reflects the tone and voice of your story – and of course, the basics: hook, goals, conflicts, and stakes. Yeah, I know. Sounds hard. 

Scour the blogs for information. Read winning queries. And write multiple versions of your query and have your critique group read it. Let it sit. Then try again. Write the best one you can. And then throw into the pot things like market trends, timing, and agent subjectiveness.

What’s one tip you have learned about writing query letters?

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