I finished my third round of editing. My CP group is hard at work critting my MS and I have my draft about to go out to my beta readers.
That’s when it hit me. What time it is, rather, it’s query time. Once the fear and nausea pass, I take a deep breath. I can do this!
For me, the writing is easy. I love putting the words down, fleshing out the ideas in my head. The editing is harder. Those beautiful words. I need every one of them. Really I do! But alas, the editors are right, less is more and I have gradually weeded down my words and my adverbs (not here though muahahah, I said evilly, maniacally, something else – ly. Phew. I feel better. I had to put them somewhere.)
Now I am at the point of ‘the Query’. Up to this moment, I have played around with my query. I joined one or two crit contests on twitter to get feedback.
There were so many rules thrown at me, that I got confused. I figured if I am confused, others must be as well so I decided to write out my thoughts. The query is just you, a reflection of you and your work. There is no RIGHT way or WRONG way but there are some general guidelines.
1. First and foremost, follow submission guidelines. I will repeat that because having seen #tenqueries on Twitter this is a big one. Follow submission guidelines.
2. Know the agent you are submitting too. Do your research. This should be easy for writers. Make sure who you are submitting too actually represents your genre! Make it personal if you can. That is purely up to you and your style and your MS. There are lots of websites too to help you track who you queried or who you didn’t. www.querytracker.com or www.1000literaryagents.com are two big ones that I have been referred to.
3. Always, Always, Always spell check, grammar check and edit your query. It should never leave your hands or inbox with a typo. (dirge music plays)
4. A good general rule. Don’t query until the MS is ready and at least 5 other people have read it. Remember ‘The first draft of everything is shit.’ Don’t send shit in the mail. People don’t like that!
5. So now you know the rules for querying. Well how do you do it? I am using Nathan Bransford guide to queries and the Writer’s Digest Guild to Query letters to help form mine. We shall see soon if that works.
6. Try and get feedback on the letter itself. Especially the first time. Feedback is good and as writers you will get tons of feedback, good and bad. Get used to it now! There are some websites that do crits all over the internet. One big one is www.queryshark.com. There are lots of different versions of this on the internet and on Twitter. Lots of blogs offer feedback. Be aware this is an opinion and only an opinion. Your letter needs to appeal to only one person, the agent. Don’t let criticism get you down now, you’re just getting started!