So as you all have probably read on this blog at one time or another, I’m in the middle of writing an awesomely fantastical young adult trilogy. Well, book one, Crystallized, is officially DONE! Woohoo!
What does that mean? It means the last few days I’ve been hopelessly poring over endless agent blogs, query forums, and other websites in an attempt to understand this monster known as the query letter.
On one site, my query letter is praised for being awesome. Then another site rips the very same letter for breaking all the basic rules. A third says it’s okay, but too vague. I was almost afraid to look at the fourth.
It’s frustrating. Many of the rules I find some sites preaching as “the only way” are disregarded on others. Some agents say you must have the best hook/tagline ever while other agents say taglines are evil. What’s a writer to do?
Here’s what I’m thinking; go with your gut. Agents are people, even if they are people who’ve read so many query letters that they want to set their hair on fire. They love to read. That’s why they became agents. So are they really going to toss your query because of a rhetorical question when your story is amazing and intriguing? My guess is, probably not. Will they throw your query away without reading it if you start with the “I’m seeking representation…” paragraph instead of the “hook” paragraph? Somehow I really doubt it. Just make them want to read your story.
So, for your reading pleasure as well as your scathing criticism, I’ve included the latest version of my very own query letter at the bottom of this post. Have a thought about it? Leave me a comment! See a problem with it? PLEASE tell me. Want me to critique yours in return? Absolutely! Feel free to send me any query letters you are working on at authorlmtaylor (at) gmail (dot) com. I’d be happy to give you my thoughts based on this past week of painful research 🙂
Also for your reading pleasure, here are some of the sources that actually DID help me with my query writing adventure. Take a looksie!
Check out these links for great query letter information and advice!
- AbsoluteWrite: How to Write a Query Letter by Andrew Jameson. This is the most succinct and to the point advice I have found.
- A Quick Guide to Query Letters. This lists some of those rules I mentioned earlier, many of which I feel are subjective and never absolute. However, the first few points where they give the basic questions a query letter must asked REALLY helped me. I wrote those questions and then wrote answers to each question. Bam, there are the elements of your query letter – then you just have to organize and work on wording 🙂
- QueryShark. Here are tons of query letters, ripped apart (ahem, I mean critiqued) by a literary agent. Very useful!
- The Complete Nobody’s Guide to Query Letters. Good, especially for Fantasy/Sci Fi writers. This is a perfect example of how a nobody author sold a SERIES by using techniques that are often portrayed as gigantic No-No’s. See, no rule is absolute 🙂
__________________________________________________________Dear [agent’s name], I am seeking representation for my young adult fantasy novel, Crystallized, complete at 85,000 words. The sequel, Fractallized, is in production. Rachael, a prodigy in an oppressive society, is no stranger to trouble. When a powerful crystal necklace jumps from her dreams into real life, Rachael is haunted by a desperate plea for help from the mysterious woman who sent it. Unfortunately for her, the use of magic in Shendara is not only heretical—it’s punishable by death. Then again, so is possession of Satu Fae, the illegal fairy-tale book given to Rachael by an enigmatic boy when she was five years old. But magical powers in a structure-driven society are difficult to hide. Rachael soon finds herself an outcast, banished to the surrounding forest and struggling only to survive. After all, the forest is a forbidding place, what with the likes of elementals, thieves and possessed sorcerers making it their home. When Rachael is captured and taken prisoner by one such sorcerer, she soon learns the strange plea for help was only the beginning of her troubles. The people of Shendara don’t believe in magic; they haven’t seen the thousands of spirits, imprisoned for eons in nothingness, as Rachael has. If Rachael can’t escape to stop impending disaster, the townspeople will experience the spirits’ fierce determination to live once more—no matter the cost. Thank you for your time and consideration, Lisa M. Taylor [contact info] ________________________________________________________________________________________