Tag Archives | query tips

Not your usual query tips.

I don’t even click on tips for writing queries on Twitter. Because. They. All. Say. The. Same. Thing. (Which is fine because new writers need that information.)

Twelve tips I don’t see that often:

  1. Be unconventional (but not as in writing the query from your character’s pov). If you’ve been writing long enough, you’ll know what’s going too far.
  2. Write the blurb for your query before you start your first draft. And make sure you love it.
  3. After you’ve written your query blurb – make it bigger. Make it bolder.
  4. Take that query blurb and write down ten different hooks, obstacles and stakes. You might just find a better story.
  5. Is your main character the least likely personality for the story? If not, make a change.
  6. Instead of telling us about your beloved character, show us through specific details.
  7. Don’t choose boring adjectives to describe your character.
  8. Rewrite your first sentence at least ten times. Use the shortest one that still gets the hook across in your voice. Heck, rewrite the whole thing ten times or more.
  9. Don’t just talk about your story using some snappy lines and sentences. Find a way to bring out the emotion.
  10. List the top ten aspects you love, love, love about your story. Narrow it down to the top three aspects of your story. Include those in your query. (If they have nothing to do with your main character and their goals and conflicts, you might be in trouble.)
  11. If you have any doubts then don’t send it. You only get one chance.
  12. Raise questions in your query but not the confusing kind of questions. The agents should think – Hmm, wonder what could possibly happen next? Instead of – huh?

If you’ve read all the same query posts as me then skip this next part. If you are a new writer and this is the first time on the internet to research query writing and barely know what they are – then please take the time to review the following.

Spell the agent’s name right. No mass queries. No glitter or pink paper. No calling. No sending food. Keep it to one page. Do your research. Don’t over research just to procrastinate. Make sure your name is on the email sent, and not your spouse’s. Personalize. Don’t write it from the pov of your main character. A query is not a synopsis. A query should have a hook, mc’s goal, obstacles, and stakes. Just google and read successful queries. Don’t use your pen name. Should be written with a similar voice as your story. Seriously good luck writing your query. Some people find an agent in two weeks others take ten years. Don’t include boring details about your life unless it’s relevant. Publication in your local paper is not relevant. But research agents even more, in case they like irrelevant details. Don’t be too personal. Don’t brag or compare yourself to someone too famous. Don’t say you’re the next J.K Rowling or Stephanie Meyers, even if you think you are. Don’t say your mom loved your story. Shorter is better, but it doesn’t really matter because it’s really about the story. Write it. Let it sit. Let others critique it. Rewrite. Let it sit. Repeat. No humongous blocks of text. Don’t start with a rhetorical question. Don’t be vague with your wording. Don’t include backstory. Wow I’m kinda having fun writing this list. Use strong verbs. No clunky sentences. Write tight. Don’t give away too much. But don’t withhold too much. Always paste in the first five pages unless specifically told not to. Focus on the main character. Don’t use a lot of names it gets confusing. Don’t get into subplots.

So, what did I miss? Do you have any unusual query tips?

Comments { 35 }

Dear Agent, Please, let me explain…

Dear Agent,

This has been bothering me for almost a year. And I always wished I could explain this to you, but I knew better than to send an email back justifying my writing.

You see, two years ago, I queried your agency on a whim after a conference. So, I was totally surprised and amazed when I received a super positive rejection. And I deserved the big R. I can see that. Now. But since you invited me to send something else, I did. Too early. And you rejected that story too. But again, you invited me to submit more. And you were nice. For the first time, I felt validated in all my time and effort. And I thank you for that.

I cringe now. It was totally too early to query you again a few months later. Even though, honestly, this third manuscript was the first time I queried more than two agents. The manuscript was ready. You see, previously, I knew in my gut the others weren’t ready. But something you have to understand about writers is that sometimes we just can’t help it. We have to query. Especially when we don’t have a lot of querying experience.

The third time was not the charm. I sent you a manuscript with a completely different tone and style, and it threw you off. I understand. I get it. But I’m not going to apologize for that. I enjoy writing humorous with heart, and I enjoy writing darker stories. 

But if it weren’t for my experience with you and the burned bridge, I wouldn’t have learned some valuable lessons.

  • A positive rejection is nice but it’s still a rejection.
  • I  better understand the meaning of story structure and how important it is to complete macro revisions, not just rewrite or polish.
  • I no longer query too early. Even though the trigger finger gets itchy, I wrap it in duct tape.
  •  When I write more serious or dark, I try to infuse a humorous side too, so I won’t completely freak agents out I’m querying for a second time.
  • I will always take my time querying between manuscripts. Make sure I’m growing in craft and bringing something new to the table.

I guess that’s about it. So, to wrap it up, I’m sorry I queried you like three times within twelve months.

Thank you for your time.



Comments { 13 }