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.
pelwrath: Thanks Jib, I started with about 2500 words of notes, created a new opening and have added to that story arc.
May 2, 2021 19:35:00 GMT -6
whaleworkforfood: I'm shocked, SHOCKED, by this Kit Kat slander xD xD There's nothing better than snapping a Kit Kat. There's nothing better than the smooth chocolatey-ness of a Kit Kat.
May 3, 2021 7:19:07 GMT -6
whaleworkforfood: My only complaint is they've switched the packaging from that paper/foil that you cut in the middle with your nail, into this horrendous plastic
May 3, 2021 7:20:01 GMT -6
Alatariel: Oh I remember the foil. Good times.
May 3, 2021 10:57:50 GMT -6
Caulder Melhaire: It's almost as bad as when they removed the Lime skittles and replaced it with green apple. Blech!
May 3, 2021 11:00:54 GMT -6
Alatariel: I totally remember biting into a green skittle right after they changed it and being SO confused. Had all my memories of lime been wrong? Had they always been apple? Skittles straight up gaslighting us.
May 3, 2021 13:57:01 GMT -6
Alatariel: Ugh, my brain doesn't want to write today.
May 3, 2021 14:25:55 GMT -6
pelwrath: Hello everyone
May 3, 2021 17:28:38 GMT -6
whaleworkforfood: omg! the apple skittles are the worst!
May 4, 2021 7:45:21 GMT -6
RAVENEYE: agreed! who decided on that genius idea???
May 4, 2021 10:51:06 GMT -6
RAVENEYE: Congrats to the winners of our POETRY CONTEST!!! Check out the ANNOUNCEMENT to see who won what.
May 4, 2021 11:35:33 GMT -6
ScintillaMyntan: Do we get to know who wrote what?
May 4, 2021 12:36:36 GMT -6
RAVENEYE: Oh crap, I forgot to edit that. Thanks, Scintilla!
May 4, 2021 12:37:58 GMT -6
RAVENEYE: there we go, sheesh
May 4, 2021 12:41:15 GMT -6
Jib: Cognrats to the winners!!
May 4, 2021 13:53:28 GMT -6
pelwrath: Well deserved congrats to the winners of the poetry contest. Cream does rise to the top and that contest was an excellent example.
May 4, 2021 14:45:51 GMT -6
pelwrath: Good evening everyone
May 4, 2021 20:44:37 GMT -6
Alatariel: More ppl need to do the 100 Word Weekly Challenge! Go go! It closes...end of day tomorrow I believe?
May 7, 2021 17:57:20 GMT -6
Jib: Aww, I think I might check it out next week. Don't think I'll have a chance to write things today!
May 8, 2021 17:52:31 GMT -6