letters from the query wars 10.11.2013

# of queries responded to week ending 10.11.2013: 106
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: urban fantasy

oldest query in the queue: October 6th

How to be a casualty in the query wars 101:

Query too soon.

Here are signs in this week’s queries that the author was querying before they were ready:

* Their debut novel was not completed.

* Using repeat queries every couple weeks with slight tweaks as if taking a sounding.

* Indicating in the query that the manuscript is a rough draft.

* Apologizing in the query for grammatical errors in the sample pages.

Don’t send queries until your novel is completed and edited to the absolute best of your ability. When you think you’re ready to query, spend time on developing that letter and pitch – get feedback before sending it out from writing peers and serious readers. Draft it, let it sit, revise it. A lot of time is spent writing and developing the novel. Some extra time to invest in submitting it will only be a benefit. Remember, there’s only one chance to make a first impression.

A clean, well-crafted query that follows the agent’s guidelines is a thing to be admired. It allows the agent to focus on the concept of the novel and the author’s writing. Whether that yields a positive reply or not, it’s the best opportunity for the story to shine and for the author to find an effective agent match.

4 responses to “letters from the query wars 10.11.2013

  1. Thank you for the extra comments. This might be a good way to cull some of the herd. People who refuse to look at guidelines are probably not going to Google for blog posts and look through archives, but for people actually doing research, this seems like a nice way to get past the “writes query that follows guidelines” hurdle and into the “writes query that sounds like something I would request a partial from”.

    It’s a numbers game, and if you can increase the percentage between people who follow guidelines, but still aren’t writing good queries, and people who are doing both, it’s a win for you.

    It’s also a win for us, since it gives us more insight into what does and doesn’t work.


  2. I do think these posts help those of us who are trying to do our due diligence. Thank you sincerely for doing this. Whenever one of these shows up through my Feedly news feed, I get excited.

    On an unrelated note, will you be updating the list of conference appearances on your main website? Hearing you speak would be a conference draw.

    Thanks again.

  3. Jennifer, thanks for this series. Your advice has been a great help and just stopped me sending out a query before the whole manuscript was edited. It’s so easy to get excited as a new writer, but you’re absolutely right. After working so hard on a project, a little extra time investing in it, polishing it off, doesn’t hurt a bit. Please keep writing these posts. Thank you!

  4. The hardest part for me is finding an audience willing to help me review my work. I am an engineer by trade and as such, most of my friends write in equations and Greek, not English and creativity. I read a post from an Australian based e-book publisher regarding a writer desperately seeking an audience, any audience, and shuttered at the simarlities.

    Query Wars give perspective on common mistakes and provide a check list of errors to look for. As always, thank you for writing these and I look forward to many future editions.

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