Whilst I rewrite chapter one over and over until my imaginary writing partner is satisfied, I’m using spare minutes to write query letters.
Query letters are even more high-stakes than just writing my manuscript because you have about a dozen sentences to capture an agent’s interest. If you don’t describe it perfectly then you’ve blown your chance. Talk about nerve-wracking!
Luckily, the internet is full of resources for the terrified new writer and I’ve gathered my favorites.
The first one that everyone recommends, of course, is QueryTracker. I duly made an account, but I haven’t found it particularly useful. Of course, my account is free so that might account for it. Instead I’ve created a Google doc for the agent I want to query, which agency they work for, various contact information, how long they estimate to take to respond, and what they’re looking for in a query.
Of course, the most essential thing to do is check your preferred agents’ query requirements. (I’d link here, but really- there are thousands of them!) I’d always assumed that this was a given, but according to interviews agents are constantly getting queries that in no way represent their requirements. As you might suspect, that’s a quick way to end up deleted.
My very, very favorite resource for the new query writer, is Writer’s Digest’s “Successful Queries” series. You should ABSOLUTELY check for your agent’s name in their archive, because agents submit query letters that worked with them and explain why they worked. It’s basically a cheat code.
This blog has what I think seems like a good breakdown of what you need to write. Basically, (with slight variations from agent to agent) you write a “Why I’m querying you/here are the basics of my manuscript” paragraph, a “Here is my VERY SHORT synopsis” paragraph, and a “Here are my credentials/interesting SHORT bio” paragraph. Presumably this varies from agent to agent, but as far as I can tell this seems to be a good framework.
Is anyone else writing queries? What tricks have you uncovered? Let me know!
P.S. My manuscript is at 66,000 words!