Oct 28, 2009

Read This Before Submitting

I am copying this from a post on Janet Reid's blog. Click here to read the original post. I recommend all submitters to read this and revise your query based upon these suggestions before posting here for additional critiques. This is very sound advice:

Here is the outline [Ms. Reid uses] to teach the class [on Effective Query Letters]:

1. A query letter is a business letter

2. A query letter requires "show don't tell" just exactly like your novel does

3. A query letter MUST tell an agent what the book is about.
3a. Who is the main character?
3b. What happens to her?
3c. What choice does s/he face?
3d. What terrible thing will happen because of that choice?

4. A query letter should include the word count, the title and any publishing credits you have? Don't have pub credits? Don't worry. Don't reach either.

(the novel has to be finished. You don't have to say it is, but just know it)

5. A query letter must avoid several instant-rejection phrases:
fiction novel
sure best seller

Oprah
film potential
"dear agent"/"dear sir or madam"

6. Things to avoid in query letters:
Don't beg.
Don't flatter.
Don't demean yourself.

Don't quote rejection letters
Don't quote critique groups, friends, paid editors or conference contacts.
Don't ask rhetorical questions.

4 comments:

Scott said...

Oh, fine, steal my linkity-link for tomorrow! : )

This is a really great article that every writer needs to read, and perhaps print off, frame nicely, and put right over their computer so they never, ever, forget. : )

S

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

What if I like rhetorical questions?

I kid, I kid.

Wasn't that post from Janet Reid the best thing ever written? I actually already printed it out and put it in my query folder for safekeeping. :)

Lisa Katzenberger said...

I was at this session with Janet and it was very helpful. Everyone in the class read parts of our queries to her. Amazing experience!

One of the other great tidbits she said was that you can query too soon, but you can never query too late. Hammering out just the right query is a process that's worth waiting for.

Suzan Harden said...

Wiser words have never been spoken.