Guest Blogger–CREEPY QUERY GIRL Talks Queries!

My guest blogger today never ceases to amuse AND inform me with her blogposts. I started following her when I was in the depths of my querying despair, because her blog-name said it all: “Creepy Query Girl” (aren’t we all, at some point or another!). You can find her over at http://creepyquerygirl.blogspot.com/. Her real name is Katie Mills, and here’s how she describes herself:

I used to be a normal married mother of three. Then I finished my first book and slowly transformed into the creepy query girl. Now in my spare time I’m tracking literary agents’ every move. On the internet. Not like, outside their windows with binoculars…yet.

The Creepy Query Girl Talks Queries…
 
So, when Heather first asked me to do a guest post talking about ‘the query letter’- I realized that in the last two years as the ‘Creepy Query Girl’, I had not once written a blog post explaining how to write a successful query letter.
I guess it’s because there are SO many awesome resources out there. (Like query queen Elana Johnson’s ‘Writing a Query Letter’ Series–http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com/p/writing-query-letter.html or Matt MacNish’s weekly query workshops–http://theqqqe.blogspot.com/)–I didn’t think anybody would really want my two cents on the matter.
But the truth is, you might think your publishing journey begins the moment you finish your first book (poem, short story, article, etc…) but in reality- it all begins with the query.  It’s your first contact with the world of publishing- the first time you’ll be representing who you are and what you have to say to the industry professionals that could make it all happen!  (daunting much?) There are a million resources out there that give you the ‘right way’ to write a query. Some agency websites even give you their own version of what they’d like to see. But the basic formula is:
Greeting (Be agent-specific. No ‘Dear Agent’ or ‘Dear Agency’ greetings.  Agents like to know you’ve queried them based on their sales, preferred genre, and experience. Not because their name was the first one in an alphabetized list.)
Hook (The aspect of your story most likely to catch the agents interest.)
Premise (main conflict, what’s at stake, and character information)
Basic info(genre, word count, target audience and any credentials you might have)
Close (The full manuscript is available upon request/ Thank you for your time/ peace out:)
But what determines a successful query, you ask?  – Um-requests. (duh duh duh!) Truth is, you could follow the query formula to a ‘T’ but if it isn’t garnering requests from agents or editors to see an excerpt of the book- it isn’t doing its job.
My tips for making sure your query is representing your book to the best of its ability:
The voice. You want to make sure that the way you deliver your hook and premise also reflect the tone of your book and the personality of your main character.  Is it a funny story? Snarky? Bittersweet? Chuck-full of mystery and foreboding? – Well that’s the kind of tone you want to use in your query.
Keep it short n’ sweet.– Get right to the point. Make sure your conflict and what’s at stake should your main character ‘fail’ are clear and concise. You don’t need to include every little detail or a complete plot summary. Save that for the synopsis (should they ask for one).
If you don’t have any writing credentials- don’t try to compensate by giving the agent a run-down of who you are, where you’re from, your age and occupation.  If you aren’t JK Rowling of Scotland- they probably won’t care much.  
I do, however, think it’s okay to mention your blog. It shows agents that you’ve done your homework, are serious about becoming a published author, and are capable of maintaining a writer’s platform.
Once your query starts garnering requests, you’ve got one foot in the door!
Next all you have to worry about is whether or not your full or partial manuscript is right’n’ready for said agent. (but that’s a whole other can of worms:)
So glad to be invited over here Heather!  I’m happy to answer any questions or comments in the comment section below!
Katie (aka CQG:)

Thank you, Katie! 

****Have you ever made any major query mistakes? I know I have! Please share some of your query wisdom or share your questions with the Creepy Query Girl!****

11 thoughts on “Guest Blogger–CREEPY QUERY GIRL Talks Queries!

  1. Thanks so much for blogging today, Katie! And my first query was just something I threw together–a regular fiasco. Thankfully, I had a friend read over it and give me some massive editing tips. We polished it up till it hooked you right in. Only problem was, my book was too short and it was a little edgy for Christian fiction. But I did (finally!) get some requests!

  2. Thanks Katie.My query is evolving. Looking back, I can see it has transformed (though only time will tell what it has finally morphed into). I just started re-sending it and am hoping/praying I will finally get something other than the standard "this isn't a good fit for us" rejection letter.

  3. It was actually great practice for the next query (for my next book!), which finally (after other requests) found its way into the hands of my most awesome agent! Every query is a step toward figuring out what works best, like you say, Katie!

  4. Great post, Katie! And I love the new blog look, Heather. Very professional. I may need your help one of these days to revamp mine. Oi. Query mistakes … hmmm … I'm pretty sure my first two query letters were atrocious, but I think it's especially hard to write a query when the plot of your book is suspect (which was my big problem with the first two books). Queries really do help you decide whether you have something Awesome or something Flawed. This was a lesson I learned the hard way!

  5. Thank you, Amy! That gives me an idea for a guest blogpost about setting up cool blogs. And if plot's lacking, it's sad to see it once you're sitting down to write that query, for sure.And yes, it's great to have a proposal ready to go if it's requested (proposals need a blogpost all their own!). Also important to get that word count in there and say it's complete. Thanks for the input, Andy!

  6. Excellent, informative post. How would you mention your blog in the query, (assuming you don't have anything else to sandwich it in between that an agent would be interested in)?

  7. Sarah, that's a good question! I think you can't go wrong putting it under your name (along w/twitter info, etc), unless it's incredibly successful, garnering a notable number of hits/comments/followers, in which case, definitely mention that in the letter. I know when I first started a blog and mentioned it in one of my queries, a top agent was happy to let me know that wasn't even relevant info for a wannabe debut author.BUT times have changed since then, and I would also think that any online presence info you could include would be helpful. But that might be more for the proposal, as opposed to the query.Any recent query-ers have any info on protocol for blog info in the letter?

  8. Sarah- I usually stick it in there at the end with the 'In addition to novels, I also write articles about publishing, the craft of writing, and the querying process which are featured on my blog- Creepy Query Girl.'

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