Once again, I’m straying from the beaten path of posts. I’m foregoing a regular story to instead talk, or rather write, directly to those very few people who are interested in this blog -- you people know who you are, so don’t hide behind your PC screens.
As you can see, I’m procrastinating. *cough, cough* I mean, I’m making a contribution toward this society of lazy bums, er, wonderful people who are vocal about their opinions that they should get a free ride --ACHOO, excuse me-- want some helpful advice about a dreaded topic that makes even the bravest of us cringe in our writing pants.
Woe upon the person who came up with the idea that an aspiring writer should tell an agent who they are and what their project is about before bludgeoning the agent with a 1000-page manuscript. It’s so much easier (and way more fun) to stalk the agent down, smack them over the head with our brilliantly written story, and then poke them with a stick to make sure they’re unconscious before signing our name on a blank contract. But, noooo! While recuperating in their hospital beds and lightheaded from the blood loss, the battered agents got together and agreed to put another obstacle in a writer’s path.
Make them send out query letters.
Sigh. There are so many discussions about this topic. How long should the query be? What elements should you talk about to get an agent interested in your proposal? Should you resend the query when you fail to receive any response after a certain length of time? And here is the most important question of them all.
What are my credentials to be talking about such a topic?
Okay, I admit it. I’m not an agent. I’m not a published author, although I’ve had a few freelance jobs. And my punctuation and grammar can sometimes leave a lot to be desired -- this is a work in progress, people. Lighten up!
However, what I do know about the subject is this: I just wrote my first query, and it was fun.
Really, it wasn’t as difficult as everyone has made it out to be. Whether the one agent will accept it is another matter (yes, I personalized the query for a specific agent because the whole generic letter thing is so passe nowadays). Since I found a great deal of enjoyment from doing it, I thought to share the little secret that made things easier for me.
I pretended I was writing a comment on a blog.
Huh? Yes, I know your scratching your head in puzzlement, but listen. The essence of a query is to summarize your manuscript. You condense the plot and genre in a few short sentences to snag an agent’s attention so they’ll want to know more about your work.
Now, the essence of a blog comment is to summarize your thoughts concerning the present topic. You condense the main points of your idea and focus on what meaning you want to convey. Then, in a few short sentences, you write down your opinion hoping to snag readers’ attentions so they’ll want to know more about you.
Wow, don’t the two of them sound similar?
That’s the secret, my secret, on how to write a query. Basically, if you have posted your thoughts on any type of message board or forum, then you have written a draft to a query. It’s as simple as that.
Anyhow, I don’t know if my post on queries will help you, but I know that it can’t hurt more than a 1000-page manuscript thrown at an agent’s head.
I don’t want anyone accidently spraining their wrists.
Attention: On July 8, 2008, I sent out the first query.