Monday, October 21, 2013

Perils of the Writer: Query Letters

I brought up query letters last week as part of the whole Heinlein's Five Rules posts, so it's worth talking about them.

Query letters are evil.  I've never met a single writer who was all, "Yeah!  I get to write a query letter!"  It doesn't happen.  Query letters are, for all intents, the equivalent of trying to get a prom date at a high school with a 500:1 gender imbalance in your disfavor. Your goal is to get your intended paramour's attention while the other 499 of your competition are always screaming, and to have any chance, you must follow specific rules of courtly approach.

And they have to be succinct.  You want to tell the agent EVERYTHING.  But don't forget, the query is only the bait to get them to bite.  Your actual manuscript is where you reel them in.  

So, I've decided to extend my offer to read and critique query letters.  You've got one and you need another pair of eyes on it?  Send it this way.  If you are really bold, I'll critique it here on the blog. 

Simply send it to me at maresca at, with "Query" as the subject, and indicate whether you want a public or private critique.

Still not sure what a query letter should look like?  Here's a sample that, hopefully, will at least amuse you.

Dear ____,

Not Writing My Query Letter is a 90,000 word young adult novel. Since you are interested in procrastination, I thought it would appeal to you.

Holly Harris is a young girl with a dream: a finished novel that she wants to query to literary agents. If gets her foot in that door, she knows she'll hit the best seller lists.

But when the Query process begins to look like a looming horror of rejection and pain, writers block hits her hard. She hopes her boyfriend Jake can help her work it out, but he's always busy, and it seems that bad boy Eddie is always around with his thesaurus. Which boy will be the beta-reader of her heart?

Not Writing My Query Letter is a stand-alone novel, but I envision it as the first in a series of several books. I'd be happy to send a complete copy of the manuscript for your review. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.