Friday, March 10, 2006

A Little Query Advice

I hesitate to write anything about query letters because writing about them usually comes across sounding harsh. However, I would like to throw out some information that I think will help writers out in this area.

Isn’t a query’s job to invite the agent to see some of your writing? Queries shouldn’t have word counts higher than most complete literary works and you CAN find word-count information on the internet. Writers should be able to describe their writing in something smaller than a chapter-by-chapter outline and should be able to detail their qualifications without giving the agent their complete life’s experience. We have found that people in some professions are more guilty of wordiness than others, but you won’t catch us listing those professions here.

A query, after all, is nothing more than a short business letter. Include important stuff like word count, type of book, title, genre, etc. Tell a LITTLE about your book as pages of dry narrative put agents (and editors and readers) to sleep. Additionally, poems and short stories are not long fiction—there is a vast difference—so don’t list them as qualifications unless you are querying us on a poetry book or short story collection, neither of which we handle. Any prior novel writing experience, published or unpublished, is important as it tells us that this isn’t your first attempt at long fiction.

I tried to make this as short as I would like the queries I receive to be by including only the information I want to get across. Hope it helps.

1 comment:

NL Gassert said...

"Any prior novel writing experience, published or unpublished, is important as it tells us that this isn’t your first attempt at long fiction."


I mulled this over for days before sending out my query letter. In the end I decided not to mention that one of my earlier manuscripts found representation, because it was a foreign language book and nothing ever came of it. I also decided against mentioning the completed manuscripts I have in my desk drawer. They’re my manuscripts with training wheels :-)

Conventional wisdom indicates that unpublished experience isn’t worth mentioning. Seems the majority of writers have drawers full of manuscripts.