Thursday, January 6, 2011

The dreaded query letter

I'm one of those writers who dread the query letter (and synopsis), and the more information I read on it, the more frightening it seems.
But at some point every writer is going to have to face her/his worst fear. Two days ago I finally posted a draft on CC. Although I thought it wasn't so bad, after reading the critiques from my respected fellow CCers, I realized just how terrible it was. This morning, I got up early and did a rewrite. The comments/critiques I received had really opened my eyes and helped me create an improved second draft.
I just posted it again on CC for it to be ripped apart and I'm excited. Every critique--even when it hurts--is a chance to improve and a step closer to a sizzling query letter. I love Critique Circle.


  1. Sometimes I have to go digest a (harsher than I'd like) crit for a while before I can take it and run with it. I'm not very familiar with queries either--it's pretty daunting. Hang in there girl!

  2. Now, I agree you have to polish it, but don't use it as a reason not to take the jump (ever). When the time comes you will send a bunch and NOT fret about them. And be yourself.
    I gave it a try in 2009 and spent 2010 rewriting my MG novel. I'm getting ready to go for another shot this year. You just have to do it and not worry about how tight it should be and all.

  3. You guys are great. Thanks so much for the encouragement.
    Myst, I know what you mean. Some crits can be bitter pills to swallow lol. I'll hang in there very tightly.

    Akoss, you're right. I shouldn't polishing as an excuse to jump. The whole point of CC is to help us with polishing.
    I look forward to that day when I can spit them out with no major worries.

    Well, I'm on my way to CC now. I'll keep you updated.

  4. I'll have to head over there and check it out...Queries are unbelievably annoying, but when you hit it right, you're golden.

  5. Writing a query and a synopsis is challenging for me too. It's a different kind of writing and I often utilize my writing buddies to help me see the big picture clearer.

    Thanks for dropping by my blog, much appreciated! Good luck with your submissions!

  6. Sure, Stacy, no problem. Good luck to you too, with the dread queries and beyond.

  7. A really great place for query help is Elana Johnson's blog: You'll see a list of links to posts she's done on different parts of the query letter. Hope it helps!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  8. Hi Liz. Best of luck with the query! Don't take it so seriously that you get headaches just thinking about it ;) Polish it up, then call a halt to editing and mail the sucker!

  9. Thanks for the great tips ladies. I really really appreciate the support. Elena, I'd definitely appreciate it if you have a look at it. My username on CC is dreamer2. The query is for Chocolate Aftertaste.
    Angela, I'll check out Elana's blog. Thanks for the link. Good luck to all of you in your projects. Together, we definitely can

  10. Queries are 10 times worse than writing the book. It's like trying to shove an elephant inside a coke bottle. The elephant just seems too big.

    Then you realize you only need a photograph of the elepant in the bottle and that's much easier.


  11. Queries are so difficult! (@Trizahlaughs: I love the elephant-in-a-coke-bottle analogy). I spent weeks on mine, then set it aside for a month and spent weeks on it again. Synopses are even worse.

    Has anyone pointed you to Query Shark yet? I think it's the one of the best query letter writing tools on the web:

    Good luck!!

  12. Oh I love Query Shark. My book isn't quite ready for that step. But I've workshopped several in my writer's group.

    It's never been an easy job.