When you're ready to publish and you have a polished manuscript, one of the first things to do is write a query to send to agents (or publishers).
There are specific rules and guidelines for queries and they're different for an agent and publisher. So don't just write one and send it to both!
My favorite resource for learning how to write a good, strong, eye-catching query for an AGENT is the blog "Query Shark". It's run by a veteran agent in the industry and she shreds query drafts for the benefit of teaching. She'll answer questions, too, and provide really valuable feedback. Of course, she prefaces all of this by saying these are her opinions on how to make queries strong, but honestly her insight is gold and valuable to ALL who want to be published the traditional way.
She's been doing this blog for YEARS, which is great because reading each post goes by quickly. Oh, she'll also post updates. So if a query is shredded and then the author comes back with a revision that's better, she'll post both versions with all of her comments. LOVE IT.
As much as I love reading each Query Shark post, she does reference a "Template" for queries and says it can be found in the archives...but never tells us where in the archives...so guess what? I have combed the archives for YOU and found the template! YOU'RE WELCOME.
This is a very skeletal template that gives the BARE BASICS needed for a strong query. Can you include other information about the plot? Yes, but she is very clear about stating NO BACKSTORY. At least, very little backstory and only things the directly impact the main plot conflict. It's about keeping things trim and minimal, but still juicy and interesting. Trust me...writing a good query is hard! Especially since we, the author, know all the nuances of our story and characters and want to include them. To us it's essential, but to the agent and the query it is NOT. We just want them to be interested enough to request the manuscript. Let them discover those nuances on their own.
So, without further delay, here's the bare basic template for a good query to an agent:
What does the protagonist want? What's keeping him from getting it? What choice/decision does he face? What terrible thing will happen if he chooses A; what terrible thing will happen if he doesn't.
Here's another form of the same thing: The main character must decide whether to ________. If s/he decides to do (this), the consequences/outcome/peril s/he faces are______. If s/he decides NOT to do this: the consequences/outcome/peril s/he faces are________.
Obviously you don't just fill in the blanks, or just answer the questions. You use this template to get the important information in the right order. You build on to this skeleton. But, you start here, and work up.
Ugh, I'm going to need this soon. At least the info is out there in as friendly a way as possible. I think the key must be to not rush this stage of things. Start writing the query and the synopsis as early as possible so you can edit and tweak them over months and years. Notice, that's me getting up my courage to start writing these monsters. Queries aren't toooo bad, but I'm not looking forward to that synopsis.
RAVENEYE: And "onism" fills me with anxiety bordering on panic. Yeah...
Sept 20, 2022 13:07:56 GMT -6
pelwrath: Today there will be two words from my dictionary. 1-emodox:n. Someone whose mood is perpetually out of sync with eferyone else around them, prone to feelings of naptime panic, heart-to-heart snark, or dance club pensiveness.
Sept 21, 2022 7:46:56 GMT -6
pelwrath: #2-Nighthawk:n.A recurring thought that only seems to strike you late at night-an overdue task,a nagging guilt, a looming future-which you sometimes manage to forget for weeks, only to feel it land on your shoulder once again, quietly building a nest.
Sept 21, 2022 7:49:43 GMT -6
RAVENEYE: Gasp! Nighthawks! I used to have them all the time! Or rather, just-as-I-woke-up hawks. Awful, horrible anxiety/guilt/dread about all that crap. Evil nighthawks.
Sept 21, 2022 11:03:43 GMT -6
pelwrath: Love those 100 word stories this week.
Sept 22, 2022 19:53:12 GMT -6
RAVENEYE: Just giving a heads-up: there has been some new material posted for crits and it seems to be falling through the cracks. I'm wondering if it's the way the forums are set up that contribute to our not seeing new posts (because we DO have to go looking fo
Sept 23, 2022 11:54:04 GMT -6
RAVENEYE: it unless we faithfully click the Recents Threads/Posts buttons), or if we're just getting lazy.
Anyway, if folks can spare a few minutes to look over the crit forums and grab something to comment on, I would be hugely grateful.
Sept 23, 2022 11:54:21 GMT -6
RAVENEYE: Yay, back from vacay. How's everybody doing?
Sept 30, 2022 11:11:09 GMT -6
RAVENEYE: Contacting Alatariel to see about the Halloween contest. I'm guessing her new baby is an adorable distraction from forum things.
Oct 1, 2022 12:30:03 GMT -6