Oct 17, 2009

Dreading your Query?

First off, don't forget to post your name here so you can win a free book!

Okay, well, if you are then this is the post for you! I've decided to share my query writing process ( if you check out my query war post on my previous novel, i think it's safe to assume I'm doing something right). This is only my opinion, and you don't have to listen if you don't want to!


Writing your first draft can be rough. Generally, you're in on of two categories: you wrote too much info or not enough. And, there's those pesky sub categories that involve grammar, sentence flow, voice, and things like that. So many worries can confuse the heck out of you. That's why focusing is key.

I'm going to skip the word count, genre, title, agent specifics, and things like that. All I'll be focusing on is the summary, because (hopefully) everyone has a general understanding of the rest through research.

These are the rules I go by and hope they'll help someone else:

The first sentence should summarize the first thirty pages of your novel. If you can't do that, then your opening is either too slow or too complex. The next three sentences I keep brief. No world-building, no character names except the MC, and no themes/morals. Honestly, when has that ever drawn someone into a book? And, when I'm all done, I toss it, and quickly re-write what I remember. It helps me shrink it to the main conflict a little better.

The second draft I tweak here and there to convey the tone of my novel better. It could be humorous, mysterious, whatever. Just be careful though, if your query doesn't match your novel an agent might not be interested. If you watched a trailer with tons of jokes and laughing, would you be pissed to walk into the theatre and find out it's a serious coming-of-age story? I'd demand my money back, or make them give me boxes of candy. Either way.

When it looks decent, I let it sit for a week or so and think about the ending sentence. To me, it's as important as your opener. It HAS to make the agent want to read more. Here's the closing sentence of my query for my previous novel:

"Love can be used for many things, and in this case, it may be for a trap."

See what I'm saying? I didn't mention exactly WHO was being a sneaky little evil man, but I made sure to end the last sentence with a line that would make an agent want to find out WHO the Mr. Evil Man is.

After I read it out loud and to some friends, I jump for joy that my query mission is accomplished. I send it out to five agents: one on each business day. And wait two weeks for replies. If I get a partial requests, then I know my query is solid and send it out to five more agents. I repeat this process every two weeks, until one of two things happens: I receive an offer or I run out of agents. Or I planned to anyway, right now I've stopped querying and am waiting on partials and fulls because if I get feedback, I'll revise something that bothered an agent and let the novel sit for a week or two, reread it, and THEN begin querying again.

I should reach this stage in a month or so when I begin to hear back from my fulls and a few partials. Hope this helped! One of my favorite query examples can be found here.

I'm off now to work on my current WIP and (high unlikely) study for a test on Monday about dismantling a bomb. No, no I assure you I'm NOT a secret agent. . .yet anyway;)


Anonymous said...

Love that you made a longer post!


Willow Cross said...

Great post! Good luck with the WIP!!