Friday, September 17, 2010

Hook, Line and Sinker


I had the awesome privilege of speaking to a group of people at my local library this week. And they were awesome!!! I thought it would be tough (first time talking to the public about writing), but the words spilled out, sort of like writing a story. A couple of attendees asked me the same question.

What is a Query Letter?

Definition of a Query Letter by Bethany Wiggins:

A query letter is a three-ish sentence pitch of your book that has a hook baited with something so tempting, the agents you send it to are drooling to get their hands on your manuscript.

Here are a couple of examples:

1. As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob--knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?
(From Eclipse)

2. At Fairfield High, everyone knows that south siders and north siders aren’t exactly compatible elements. So when cheerleader Brittany Ellis and gang member Alex Fuentes are forced to be lab partners, the results are bound to be explosive.

Neither teen is prepared for the most surprising chemical reaction of all – love. Can they break through the stereotypes and misconceptions that threaten to keep them apart?

(From Simone Elkeles Perfect Chemestry... see? don't you want to read this?)

So there you have it! Any more query questions? Post them in the comments and I'll try to help you out in my next post. Cheers! And go do something fun this weekend.

21 comments:

coffeelvnmom said...

Wow. Three-ish sentences? *cries* *deletes all query drafts*

No, really. Those are good examples. (Just really SHORT ones! lol)

salarsenッ said...

Ooh, helpful. Short is soooo much better. Just need to get it right. ";-)

Jackee said...

That umph! in a hook is so easy to spot in real books, isn't it? It's a wonder it feels insurmountable in our own queries. :o)

Thanks for the great advice, Bethany!

Meggan said...

Oh, This is great! Thanks Bethany.

Melinda said...

Thanks so much for coming to the library, you were great, my boss loved it also, he was the man in the back. You will come back next September for a book signing right.

lotusgirl said...

It really is amazing how much you can get into three sentences if you don't waste words and only tackle getting the essential across.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

So far I've managed a one line pitch and a 223 word pitch. Not sure I could figure out a three sentence one.

I love Perfect Chemistry!!!!!

Liza said...

Quick queries and a brilliant lesson. Thank you!

lbdiamond said...

Nice examples! Thanks for sharing! :D

Angie said...

Glad you survived your public speaking experience!

L.T. Elliot said...

I loved Simone's book trailer for Perfect Chemistry. It made me laugh all over the place. =]

Jemi Fraser said...

Those are great! Now to put theory into practice :)

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Congrats on a successful talk at the library! But oh man, only 3 sentences? I thought it was so short, but your examples are fantastic!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Those are brilliant examples - too bad it's so dang difficult to do!! :-)

Margo Berendsen said...

Bethany, have you shared your query that got you an agent? Was it only three sentences? Maybe you already have... I haven't visited here in a while but I've been missing out. Loved that bio contest.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Marietta Zacker spoke at a conference I just went to...she said BRIEF....multiple times when talking about query letters...

Laura Pauling said...

And I think the bigger the concept the easier it is to write a 3 sentence query too!

Charlie Hills said...

And for what *not* to do in a query letter, be sure to visit:

http://slushpilehell.tumblr.com/

It's like a train wreck: you just can't stop looking. Here's just one gem: "Every agent I’ve encountered thus far has been a complete idiot. Let’s see if you can prove you’re different by representing me and my book.

To which our agent replied, "Stop. Your seductive charm is making me feel woozy."

Jo Schaffer said...

Buh! I need to mess with mine a bit more.

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Great post! I thought we couldn't have a rhetorical question in our query letters???

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

I love seeing great pitches, especially for books I already know. Thanks!