Monday, June 29, 2009

Query Letters

It had to happen sooner or later. I mean, what aspiring writer doesn't put a post about query letters on their blog at some point?

This post has, of course, been prompted by the fact that I am currently drafting the first-ever query letter for my still-untitled YA novel. (Yes, I'm going to have to think of a title before I send the queries off.) Since there are a bazillion websites and blog posts on how to write a query letter (believe me, I know; I've been looking at them all) and because I am by no stretch of the imagination good at writing query letters, I'm not going to talk about how to write one. Rather, I'm going to rant about - er, point out what I think are some of the most common difficulties when it comes to writing query letters.

1. Finding an Agent to Query

Again, there are a bazillion sites to help with this. But it does take some time, and often you have to do some specific research on particular agents to see what books they've repped, maybe even read those books, and find a way to personalize your query to them. All of this = time consuming, but necessary.

2. Writing a Synopsis

It's hard to sum up months of work, with all of its remarkable characters and brilliant subplots, in a paragraph. It's even harder to make it sound good. I can't offer any pointers here. When I figure out how to mash thousands of words into about a hundred, I'll patent it and let you know!

3. Tone

It's always safer to air on the side of professionalism. But sometimes it can be tempting to try to be funny/glib/cute/otherwise more appealing than a boring old professional. It can be especially difficult to resist when the agent you're querying has a witty blog, the tone of which is so captivating that you just HAVE to match it. (i.e. Nathan Bransford *flatteryflatteryflatteryjustincaseIlinkmyblogintheemailandheclicksit*) As of right now, I'm still leaning towards DON'T DO IT! (Try to be clever and witty, that is.) It's too risky. No agent (presumably) is going to reject you because your query letter was too polite and professional. They might, however, reject it because you were too unprofessional. Even if you are hilarious.

Alright. I'm pretty much done complaining about discussing the hard parts of query-writing. Now I should get back to actually writing them. *procrastinates*

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