Query Letter Approach

I’m querying for more than one project right now.  It happened that way because while waiting for a reply on one project, I happened to finish another.  A question I had for my online writing support group left me thinking about my querying style.

We’re told to be professional and all times and to research the agent thoroughly.  I agree with that 110%.  After all, agents probably have a steady volume of emails in their inboxes even at the end of the week.  They don’t have time to waste with someone who doesn’t know what they represent or doesn’t take the time to spell their name right, especially if it’s an easy name. 

I approach my queries thinking short, sweet, and to the point.  Very professional and very brief.  Everyone’s time is important to them, so I don’t believe in taking up more than my share.  They give the agent everything they want to know about my WIP.  Or at least, I hope it does.  😉  I don’t even fluff up my bio section anymore.  In the end, the hook/blurb has to be the thing that wow’s them.

I’m not saying I’m an expert query writer.  Ha!  If you believe that, then I’m hear to tell you I’m the new owner of Lehman Brothers.  I put my feet in the agent’s shoes and ask myself, “What would I want to see?”  Then, I compose it in my query.  Not every agent gets the same letter because I try to write some of them based on what they represent.  If they’re looking for a “mystery twist” and my story has it, then I put that right up at the top.  If not, then I don’t bother and I don’t sweat it.  Like I stated before, it’s all about the hook.

What words go through your mind when you compose a query?

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9 thoughts on “Query Letter Approach

  1. Edie, I hope you never get tired of my saying “you’re too sweet” because you are. 😉

    The interesting this is the praying comes into play with me, too. Although, I can’t recall if it comes after I finish my maunscript or when I get a request for a partial or a full. It could be both. A litte divine intervension never hurts.

  2. I’m with Edie – lots of prayers go through my mind. I might even light a few candles. Other than that, I try to focus on the hook. After that a quickie blurb. I’m a true believer in “less is more.” I get bored reading verbose stuff so I’m assuming the agent will, too.

    As far as revealing my curriculum vitae, there again, less is more. Will an agent care that I spent years as a slave to lawyers? Doubt it, unless I’ve written a book about it (which I NEVER will – yawn). Will I let them know I placed first in a writing contest? Don’t know. Will they care one way or another? Should I tell them I’m enrolled in a writing program? Only if it’s one of the best in the country and I have the MFA showing that I finished. Publishing achievements? Only if I’d already been with a good publisher that suddenly closed.

    Basically, let the query push said agent into reading the synopsis and/or first chapters. Less is more. (Just like this comment, 😉 )

  3. I’m with you, Kath. Less is more and tightness is even better.

    The only thing I really list in my bio is my publishing experience. For me, that’s my major selling point. I’ll say that I belong to RWA, but that’s it. I don’t see the point in listing chapters, contests (unless it’s major), and things like that.

  4. Erica, I hear you on the SELL IT. I want both the hook and the tagline to sizzle in the agent’s hands and entice them to read more. Everything else is secondary. Besides, I wouldn’t know how to spice up my bio other than stating the facts about my creds. *shrug*

  5. For me, I won’t be composing query letters until I sell subsidiary rights, if I do. And doing that is going to depend in part on my sales first. So my strategy will be to present the blurb, and focus on the facts/sales stats.

  6. In my mind, Zoe, that blurb is more important than any other aspect of the query. Well…your contact info is important, too. Ultimately, the blurb will be the thing that sells everyone on your book.

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