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  1. #1
    Joe Palazzo
    Guest

    query frustration

    For some reason, I can knock out a whole novel, but I can't seem to whittle the bare bones of it down into a query letter. Does anyone else have this problem? And, are there any good books, websites, or tips on creating a query letter that'll be a good read for a publisher?



  2. #2
    Pegleg O'Sullivan
    Guest

    Re: query frustration

    You can get some excellent tips at:

    <http://www.agentquery.com>

    And Miss Snark has some pointers, but you'll need to check the archives - she's got a blog at:

    <http://www.blogspot.com>

    Check out past threads on the Literary Agents forum here, and feel free to post your query for skewering when you've got it together.

    Writing a query is probably more difficult than penning a novel. Good luck

  3. #3
    Chris M
    Guest

    Re: query frustration

    Hi Joe,

    I feel your pain. I think I've finally figured it out though. Instead of trying to cram too much into the query, sum it up briefly, but with excitement. Look at the back covers of some books that are similar to yours and go from there. Keep trying until you get it right, it takes a few times, perseverence and practice. Then add the genre, word count and a brief bio. I've tried agentquery.com's formula and Andrew Zack's perfect pitch, but I really think this is it. The agent has to get a sense of your writing from your query. What do you think? I think it's worth a shot. Good luck!

    Chris

  4. #4
    Mike Morey
    Guest

    Re: query frustration

    Hi Joe.

    I have the same reaction to the synopsis. I can't wait until I'm a rich and famous author so I can hire a mnion to do that awful chore.

    Anyway, for the query, I have a simple formula that seems to work (I think I picked it off an agent's website, some years ago). Three sentences. First sentence, introduce the main character and what his problem is. Second sentence, describe the main obstacle preventing him from solving his problem. Third sentence, tell how he solves it. Or, in the immortal words of a famous Hollywood producer (whose name I forget): Put him up a tree, throw rocks at him, get him out of the damn tree.

    Here is an example (one of my unpub'd):

    If fiftteen minutes of fame is all you get, time is running out for Billy Fox. His hit television show is about to be cancelled, his girlfriend--a supermodel with only a first name--is about to leave him, a two-bit waiter is about to take his role in Woody Allen's next film, and a sock named Goober is about to upstage him. It's all downhill after that.

    Hope this helps a little.

    mm

  5. #5
    Mike Morey
    Guest

    Re: query frustration

    Hey, Joe.

    I neglected to mention the other aspects of the query letter. The first paragraph of the letter introduces you and the work. The log line, your 3-line pitch, goes second. A third paragraph details your publishing history and the length of the book. The only thing that really matters is that crucial 2nd paragraph. The rest isn't writing so much as listing information (who you are, how long your book is, etc.). I was assuming it was the log line you were having trouble with.

    mm

  6. #6
    leslee
    Guest

    Re: query frustration

    Take a look at the old threads in the Literary Agents forum. You'll find dozens of query letters and the critques that go with them. And don't be too hard on yourself. The Q letter can be daunting.

  7. #7
    Joe Palazzo
    Guest

    Re: query frustration

    Thanks everybody, I'm going to try all of these different methods and find the one that works for me.

  8. #8
    Joe Zeff
    Guest

    Re: query frustration

    Two additions to what Mike said. First, your opening sentence is called the "hook," and is intended to grab the reader's attention long enough to keep them reading. If it isn't interesting, you can lose the agent right there. Second, don't give away the ending, because the idea of the query is to make them want more. You do, however, show how it ends in the synopsis, as you have to show that the book reaches a satisfying conclusion.

  9. #9
    Michael Hill
    Guest

    Re: query frustration

    leslie said, "and don't be too hard on yourself"

    and i'll add......"That's our job"

  10. #10
    Simon Says
    Guest

    Re: query frustration

    I'm going to disagree with Joe regarding the ending. The goal of the query is to make them want to read the book -but not giving the ending or teasing without revealing the ending does not make an agent want to read more to find out the ending. In fact teasing the ending is damn annoying to agents. Don't do it.

    In most cases telling the ending serves no purpose - but if your ending is highly unusual or provides a compelling twist (i.e. the reveal at the end of the 6th Sense or Planet of the Apes) then you should definitely include that - because revealing it is far more tantalizing to the average agent than keeping it from them.

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