Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Your Chance to Have Your Query Letter Critiqued

Readers at Seeking the Write Life are notoriously generous with their advice. So I was thinking, what if we did a little query critiquing? That way, authors with a WIP getting close to submissible standard could get a head-start on their query letters.

To make the game fair, we'll do it anonymously on the site - your query will go up with any personal information redacted. I'll ask submitting authors NOT to promote their own submissions. We'll focus on the blurb portion of the query - does it hook us? Is it clear and easy to understand? Does it make us want to read more?

We'll let contributing authors know what we think works and doesn't, then they can resubmit their edited queries if they so choose.

In a few weeks, the top five revised queries will then go head to head for a prize I'm still in the process of nailing down.

Sound good? Well, if you want your query letter to be considered for posting on the site, read on:

1. Sometime before 11:59pm NEXT TUESDAY, May 1st, send a draft query to me via email at aimeelsalter (at) gmail.com. Put "Draft Query" and the title of your book in the subject line. (First come is NOT first served - take the time to revise and ready your letter).

2. Try to remember to leave personal information blank (but I'll take it out for you if you don't).

3. Remember that submission doesn't guarantee it will be posted on the site. It will depend how many submissions I get, and how brightly they shine.

4. Keep checking back to see if your submission goes up, and to offer feedback to others!

5. Bribes readily accepted. (Just sayin').

NOTE: The better your query is, the more chance it will be posted for feedback. If you're taking your first stab at query writing, check out www.queryshark.blogspot.com and also the query tips below before you submit.

Tips for a great query: (These are just a few. For full version of this list, see top literary agent Rachelle Gardner's blog post "How to Write a Query Letter")

It starts with a few sentences designed to make me want to read your book. To figure out how to do this, read the back-cover-copy or flap copy of your favorite books. The goal is not to give a detailed synopsis, but instead to write something interesting and informative enough that I want to read more.

No longer than the equivalent of one typewritten page, about 3 to 6 paragraphs.

Include the genre and word count. If you don’t know about genres, please do some research and learn prior to querying. Include your final word count, making sure it’s appropriate for your genre.

Author bio (fiction): If you have traditionally published fiction before, tell a bit about your publishing history. If not, don’t worry about this part of the letter, just say you’re a first-time novelist. If you like, you can indicate that you’re a blogger and you’are active on Twitter and Facebook (so the agent sees you’re aware of the importance of social networking for authors).

Let me know what’s available if I should request more. Note that unpublished novelists must have a completed manuscript before querying.

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