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.
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!****