Queries, queries, queries. Every new writer gets all worked up over them. You think if you can just compose the elusive Magic Query, all your writing troubles will be solved. Agents will come knocking at your door, clamoring to represent you. Your only dilemma will be choosing the right one, the one who will get you that seven-figure advance (and the yacht, and the cabana boy, the maid, the butler, yadda-yadda-yadda).
Are you perhaps struggling with this dilemma yourself? Would it help if I posted a model query here?
Okay, if I must, I must. Mind you, this only a representative sample. (Explanatory comments included parenthetically. Like, er, this.) Do with it what you will:
To My Lucky Future Agent (A positive attitude is a must.),
You don’t realize it yet, but your world is about to be rocked!!! (Exclamation points build excitement — use lots.) The client of your dreams — aka, moi! — is here, just waiting to be be snapped up by you. That’s right, YOU! (All caps for proper emphasis.) IF you’re smart enough to act fast, before every other agent jumps in and snatches opportunity from your clutches, that is.
But that would make me sad, because I put so much time and effort into researching YOU to make sure we’re a good match. By the way, love what you’ve done to your condo! And your dog is adorable. Hot hubs you have there, too! Might want to nudge him to get rid of his overly friendly secretary, though, if you get my drift. Just saying. (The personal touch shows you’re willing to go the extra mile. And, really, private detectives aren’t that expensive. This is your career you’re investing in, after all.)
I’d tell you what my book is about, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Suffice it to say, if Stephen King, Dan Brown, Stephenie Myer, and J.K. Rowling combined their superhero writing powers, they might be able to come up with something as awesome. (You have to show confidence in your work. This is no time for false modesty.)
Call when you get this and we’ll set up a lunch meeting to sign contracts.
Ciao, baby! (A touch of Continental Cool never hurts.)
Your Future Favorite Client,
Okay, not really. Puh-leeze. I did not use anything close to the above to get my agent. Honest. (I mean, I don’t think she even has a dog.) Though, knowing Michelle, she may have thought it was funny. Still, even if she laughed, I somehow doubt she would have signed me.
What’s that? You want to see the query that caught Michelle’s eye?
Well, all right. But I have to warn you – it’s nothing special. I just tried to give the necessary information, keeping it short and simple. I figure agents are
ravenous query-carnivores busy people who want to get right to the meat pertinent content in, if at all possible, under three nanoseconds. Here you go:
Dear Ms. Wolfson,
IN A FIX is a lighthearted crime romp with a paranormal twist (I had no idea I was writing light urban fantasy until after we sold it.), complete at 87,000 words and aimed at readers who enjoy a dash of bawdy humor with their romantic adventure.
Ciel Halligan has a talent most women would kill for: she can change her appearance in the blink of an eye (I know. Cliché city. My bad.). From a family of shady but goodhearted “aura adaptors” — with the ability to alter their energy to project someone else’s physical form — she’s determined to help others. When her clients get in a situation they can’t handle, Ciel steps in and fixes it. For a hefty fee, of course. A girl has to make a living. But when a client’s almost-fiance is kidnapped by modern-day Vikings in the middle of a job, Ciel is sucked into a mess she doesn’t know how to fix. Her hunky step cousin Billy, and Mark, the CIA agent she’s crushed on for years — both skilled adaptors themselves — are tangled up in the intrigue. Now Ciel has to extract her client’s intended from the Vikings, foil their ridiculous-but-deadly plot to… [Sorry. Spoilers. But it was in the letter.], and decide which of her two helpers she really likes best.
In Ciel’s world, it’s not unusual to be the Queen of England one minute and Boner Benjamin, awkward teen, the next. The most difficult thing to be is herself. (One of my fabulous CPs came up with that last bit for me. Thanks again, Suze! Hey, get your query help wherever you can.)
I’m an ex-actress and former English teacher, channeling my two loves — drama and words — into writing escapist fiction. IN A FIX is the first novel I’m letting out of the desk drawer.
Thank you for your consideration.
Michelle requested pages, and then a full. Guess she liked it well enough, because here I am, and I couldn’t be happier. Well, unless she somehow comes up with seven figures and a cabana boy. (Hmm. Would she get 15% of the cabana boy? The logistics could get complicated…never mind. I’m sure we’ll work it out.)
The thing is, the only job a query has to perform is to pique an agent’s interest enough to get her/him to request pages. (Um, for fiction, anyway. For nonfiction, please see yesterday’s post from Deb Rachel.) Then the baton gets passed to your book, and it has to do the heavy lifting. But that’s fodder for another post.
Tell me, if you’re a writer, have you begun the query process yet? Do you find it daunting, or is it just one more step on the path to publication?
Or, if you’re not a writer, do posts like this bore the bejeesus out of you? *grin*
P.S. If any of you have the nuts—er, the guts to use something similar to my first example, please let me know how it works out for you.