I asked for a critique or ten of my query letter that I’m submitting for the Big Sur Writer’s Workshop and while I didn’t get ten, I did get a couple. Thank you so much Nancy and Gail for your time and assistance.
But instead of that warm, fuzzy ‘problem solved’ feeling, I now feel utterly addled. As a result, I’m going to break it down bit by bit over my next couple of blogs.
As you know by now, I deplore the longwinded; I’ll attempt to be brief.
The beginning of my query, as was posted:
Your website states that you are currently seeking YA, “…character-driven AND page-turning contemporary fiction with real emotional power; dystopian…”
My intention was to prove that I had gone to her website and researched what she is specifically seeking, without repeating her tweets and outing myself as a fangirl.
But one critiquer thinks this is grand faux pas numero uno.
That commenter, a fellow writer with extensive querying experience, stated:
“Unless an agent specifically asks for an introduction, always jump right into the meat of the query. Besides, the agent already knows which genres she reps so you don't have to remind her.”
The other commenter, one-time journalist, poet, children’s writer, etc., had a different idea:
“…SOME WANT TO KNOW STUFF LIKE WHY YOU ARE QUERYING THEM IN PARTIC, HOW YOUR BOOK FITS INTO THEIR LIST, ETC, I HEAR THIS OVER AND OVER IN AGENT PANELS AND INTERVIEWS. WHICH IS WHAT RESEARCH IS FOR. DEFINITELY DO HOMEWORK ABOUT EACH AGENT…
As I’m no expert I went to the expert’s corner…
In my world that’s Chuck Sambuchino’s blog, A Guide to the Literary Agent. All the following quotes are from his immeasurably helpful blog. (Maybe I have a small crush…)
These are a few of those wants and don’t wants in queries:
Molly Glick of Foundry Literary & Media told Chuck: “…No. 3-Proof that you have researched and hand-picked an agent…” (Maybe I will repeat her tweets…)
Janet Reid, the infamous Query Shark, says it a little differently: “…Section Three: 1. Why you chose this agent…” Essentially, keep the intro but put it at the bottom.
She also demands a query letter not surpass 250 words. I’m good there, mine currently is 203.
And I could go on and on, but your eyes are already bleeding and you’ve just scrolled down three-fourths of the page.
This is my current intro:
According to your website, you are currently seeking dystopian YA with character driven plots and real emotional power. You may enjoy my novel, UnALTERED.
So you tell me, do I scrap it or keep it or rework one more time?