Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Chasing the “Perfect” Query

When Sarah and I first realized that we would have to start formulating a Query letter to send out to agents the first thing I did was Google them. Duh, trusty ‘ol Google knows everything. I clicked on the top search pulling up a website (which I can’t for the life of me remember the name of) that said: a query is basically just what you read on the back of a book. 

I gave my computer - AKA the green box with buttons - a smug smile. This was going to be a piece-of-cake.

I whipped out my trusty notebook and jotted down the perfect “hook”. I think it was something like: In a world where…blah, blah, blah. But man I thought it was A. MA. ZING! 

As the weeks turned into months we did more research on the “perfect” query. Stalking agents on twitter and their blogs, reading interview after interview, writer blog after writer blog and of course reading every last sample query on Query Shark. OK. So this was going to be a teensy bit harder than I thought. 

It wasn’t a big deal that on almost every agent blog/interview they said they hated queries that started “In a world where…” No problem, just cut it. We’d already cut thousands of words from our MS so this was no different. 

We were still going to barf this puppy out in a matter of days. Right?

Wrong. The query is the first thing that every agent/publisher you submit to sees. It’s the face of your precious baby MS that you’ve spent months/years/decades writing. Your tears - and possibly those of your friends/family members - are in that sucker. So, for me, the hardest thing was accepting the fact that the query would take us weeks/months/a year to perfect. 

Holy cow! This was almost harder than the actual story we had been writing/perfecting for what seemed like forever.

I think it actually took us four or five drafts to even have an acceptable rough draft of a query letter to start building on. 

Now here’s where I remind you that at that point Sarah was working 5pm to 5:30am three days a week and I was working 6:30pm to 3am four days a week. So we were basically walking zombies who barely had the energy to pop a waffle in the toaster for our kids, let alone come up with this elusive “perfect” query. AND! When we did muster up the energy to have more than two cohesive thoughts in a row we had a MS to edit/perfect/change/WRITE!

It has now been at least ten months since that first query was born. Since then we’ve had major mistakes, a few arguments and countless drafts cross the screen of the green box.

Just the other day I had a random thought: “Hmmm maybe we need to re-visit our query?”

Don’t lose hope. The perfect query is out there but you have to work for it. 

Or maybe (like Sarah & me) you just keep changing it and sending out different drafts to every single agent you query.

Here are just a few of the blogs that kept us from ripping our hair out: 


Tell us about your query struggles. It makes us feel better.

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