Query Mishaps & How To Fix ThemJul 01, 2020
Hello, Storytellers!! I hope you are having a fabulous day, morning, evening-whatever!
This is part two that I just decided to add to last week's blog about crushing your query which you can find HERE or just scroll down after reading this!
So it's time to submit, but you now have to write your query and your mind goes blank. You can't form a coherent sentence, and you just write something too long, too boring, or just plain bad. Why is that?
I think it's like a game of GOLF-all in YOUR HEAD. You put the pressure on yourself to write something amazing and BAM! just like that, nothing good comes out.
There are tons and tons and tons of resources for how to write a good query, so I won't bore you with those details. GOOGLE how to write a query and I promise you tons will come up. I have some favorites, which you can see in my earlier blog, but everyone is different, so I want you to do what speaks to you.
That said, as someone who used to run a query clinic, and I often work with writers one on one with their queries, let me share some of the most common mishaps that writers make.
- The letter isn't personal. It's a form letter that gets blasted out to 80+ people.
- There is way too much about the story-telling what happens in order, which usually sounds like a little kid telling a story about what happened. "And then... and then... and then..." You know what a mean.
- The writer lists a bunch of "credits" that have nothing to do with what they are submitting.
- Typos, grammar errors, and spelling the person's name wrong.
- It's too long.
- It doesn't show any excitement for the work.
- It's boring.
- It's not coherent or makes no sense.
- It doesn't tell what the story is about-the who, why, what--
- The writer talks about all the reasons it's the next Harry Potter, etc. and how much money it will make.
So what can you do to write the perfect query?
- Make it PERSONAL. Why are you submitting to this person? This is HUGE.
- What is the story about? Be specific, and get to the point.
- Keep it short. I think queries where the about the story part is only one or maybe two short paragraphs are the strongest. There is a reason in advertising K.I.S.S. is said. Keep It Short Stupid/Silly
- List only things that are relevant to why you wrote this story.
- Spell check, use GRAMMARLY, and have your friends & critique partners read it.
- MOSTLY be EXCITED about your story!! If you aren't excited and can't sell it, how will an editor?
I think that people get caught up in the "this must be perfect" mindset and freak out. Writers can obviously write because they just wrote a great book, screenplay, or TV script.
Two more things, words of advice, I can give you are:
- SPEND TIME crafting this query. Make sure every word counts.
- SEND only when your novel is READY. One of the biggest mishaps I see writers making is sending out too soon. The book isn't done or is in the first revision. Don't panic, that agent, editor, etc. will be there. WAIT before you send out.
Okay, one more.
BE VERY SPECIFIC about WHO you send to. You don't need to send 100 queries.
Choose a small handful of people to send to, and get your manuscript ready for them. Tell them WHY you think that you will be great working together. If you are sending to everyone who you think of, trust me, that comes off on the page. Think of your agent like your spouse. This is a relationship. You need to interview them as well. This may be via social media posts, conference talks, but you need to send to the right agent.
I hope these tips help you. I want every writer to succeed, so if you have questions feel free to post. I'll tell you this. I have a very high request rate when I query. I have made the mistake of sending before the book has been ready and then failed at the manuscript stage. I have had three agents for writing. Currently, I'm finishing a new novel, women's fiction, I am being really picky about who I will be sending to soon. PATIENCE is something that is key.
DON'T GET DISCOURAGED!
Good luck. Contact me if I can help you. I also do work one on one with people. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION on working one to one
Sometimes I tell my writer friends and clients, first just tell me what your book is about like we're friends out having coffee. Nine times out of ten, what they tell me as a friend is MUCH stronger than what they just wrote in their query. I'm telling you all, it's all in your head. Be EXCITED for your book, and start by being casual about why it's great.
If you want you can do this exercise.
Write a letter to a friend about your new book!!! Trust me, a lot of what you write in there can go right into your query. :)
Sometimes if you can't simply say what your book is about, then your book probably isn't ready to be queried. Keep that in mind. If you are really struggling, there MAY be a reason for it.
Okay, no, go write and be excited!!!
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