Friday, September 11, 2009

From the Query to the Call

So you've finished your work in progress. Not only have you finished, but you know that it is going to be the next big thing--like Stephen King big. Awesome! Time to celebrate! Now all you have to do is write the query. Right? Because without a magnificent query letter, not a single agent will even look at your manuscript, no matter how good it is. Well, if you're like me, you'll sit down at the computer to write a nice little query that conveys the extreme awesomeness of your manuscript... and hit a wall worse than writers block.

Why is it so hard to write a few short paragraphs about your work? Well, let's get the opinion of an expert. Christine Fonseca interviewed Elana Johnson, query expert extraordinaire, and here is her (Elana's) opinion....

Elana Johnson (EJ): In my experience, writers have a hard time getting to the main conflict of their novel. They want to spend so much time setting everything up, from character details to the fancy world they’ve created to the relationships. And books are about conflict. Along with that is the fallout of the conflict. Most of the queries I’ve seen are missing the consequence if the MC can’t solve their problem. And if I don’t know what the stakes are, why do I care?

For the whole interview and a review of From the Query to the Call, click here.

Oh, how I wish I had this ebook in my hands five years ago when I wrote my very first, horribly long-winded query! The time I would have save! I'm not saying that it'll be easy to come up with that perfect query, even with this wealth of knowledge at your fingertips. But it'll make it a heck of a lot easier.

Congratulations to our friend and fellow writer, Elana Johnson, who is releasing the ebook From the Query to the Call this Monday, September 14th.

So, here is the question of the day. Why do you think writing a query is so stinkin' hard?

Also, check out the Querytracker Blog for the the Publishing Pulse and a fascinating article on plagiarism.


Robin M said...

I just finished reading and reviewing it myself and have to say ditto. Great little e-book.

Why do I think writing a query is so hard? Because it's like doing a resume - narrowing your book down to a few words when you have a whole lifetime of experience to talk about.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

It seems to me that those of us who have trouble writing synopsis, would have even more trouble with a one or two paragraph summary that is called for in a query. It's not easy summing up our babies in such short spirts, especially when there are so many scenes in our mss that we love!

Stephanie Thornton said...

Queries are full of black holes that can slurp you up in the wrong direction. I'm in the process of revising my query and it's at a point where I think I've got the main obstacle down- I've summarized the book in a single sentence and set up the conflict. That one little paragraph is pretty intense! I haven't counted, but I think the whole word count on that is probably close to 100.

The editors and agents at a writing conference I recently went to also said that they're looking to see why the author wrote the book they did and if it's a book they can sell. That's the part I'm working on cleaning up, using about 75 words.

It's just hard to keep from going in the wrong direction or spending too many words on something agents don't care to read.

Jessica Nelson said...

I think it's hard because we're so close to our manuscripts that we can't see the overall Storyline. Maybe. LOL

Congrats to Elana!

Clementine said...

I think it's because we spend years perfecting the story! It's really hard to summarize all the details that we love so much. And I'm right there with ya. I DREAD writing query letters. For me, it's like taking a math exam, with a pass or fail grading scale.

Bethany Wiggins said...

From the Query to the Call is now available.

Congrats, Elana!!!

Stina said...

Why? Because we know the story too well.

That's why my crit group has a new approach to the query. We crit the query before reading the ms. That way we're seeing it as though through the agent's eyes. Then we revisit the query after we've read the ms, that way we can see what was missing or what wasn't important to include in the query after all.