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Query Don’ts: Putting a Stop to This Latest Query Trend

There’s a new query trend out there, one that isn’t helping authors at all, but is driving me crazy.

Here is how the query goes:

Dear Ms. Faust, After seeing on #MSWL that you’ve been looking for books set in Alaska I knew I had to query you. My book is called Alaskan Cool Guy. The book is about a guy who finds himself alone in the Alaskan Bush after a freak snowstorm downs his plane. Everyone dies. It’s truly horrific. Now he must get out all by himself, with only a scissors and an old seat cover as a jacket. ****please note I made up this horrible blurb on purpose —jhf

I have included a brief synopsis and bio below. I hope you like it enough to ask for more. Many thanks,Jessica Author Brief Synopsis: When Frank Franklin’s plane crashes in the Alaskan Bush in the middle of Winter, this self-described Whiz Kid finds himself in a situation he never imagined. Lost in a country few could survive with only the remnants of a broken plane for tools, Frank sets out to face what the wild throws at him. At first he’s fighting only Mother Nature, but after finding the dead body of what looks like a hunter, Frank starts to wonder if the Grizzlies aren’t the least of his concerns. Finally he makes it to safety, changed for the better.

Jessica Author has been writing since she was 12. It’s been a dream of hers to be published. Born in Alaska, she has a strong desire to bring this beautiful country to life for readers.

Jessica FaustAddressPhone Email

Okay, here’s the problem, besides the fact that your synopsis isn’t very good, it’s buried. Why would you include the blurb for your book after your letter? I’m already done reading. It’s like sending a cover letter and saying, “P.S. Here are the skills that make me best suited for the job”

Query letters should look something like this:

Opening introductory paragraph

Blurb

Author bio

Closing

That’s it. Don’t over complicate it.

I’ve done a ton of blog posts on how to write a proper query letter. Query Shark is an excellent source of information. Use them.

–jhf

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5 comments

  1. I have a horrible feeling you've had that said, "after seeing… on… I knew I had to query you"
    The rest I can't help but see as being rude, if your website says you want (or advise) queries to be done in xyz way, that's how it should be done.

    It's like a publisher asking for admissions in Ariel 12 and me sending in Tahoma 14 with a blue background because that works best for me.
    It's simply not done.

  2. I have a horrible feeling you've had that said, "after seeing… on… I knew I had to query you"
    The rest I can't help but see as being rude, if your website says you want (or advise) queries to be done in xyz way, that's how it should be done.

    It's like a publisher asking for admissions in Ariel 12 and me sending in Tahoma 14 with a blue background because that works best for me.
    It's simply not done.

  3. I'm always amazed at writers who don't follow the standard query format. There must be quite a few as the Query Shark rants often on this as well.

    Maybe it's wrong to admit, but it's a bit of a relief to realise a lot of our competition for an agent's attention can't follow guidelines.

  4. Hello. Simply put. Alaska is a magnificent place to reside in or visit. The enormity of a brown bears head, the witnessing of a huge majestic moose protecting her twins , the eagle mating dance and the migration of the Beluga whales is eloquent and raw as heck. Primal instincts return instinctively. I called packs of wolves who came so close I could touch them with my fingertips and feel their hot breath upon my face.
    I am a blessed woman who endured the elements as well as being tracked by a human predator . Not fun !
    To contact me, please write to Michaela. @eagleflight111@gmail.com…remember to love deeply, laugh often and do play !

    Ps I found the comments by the editor valid. Love and Light !

  5. Jessica: I assume your "Introductory paragraph" would include the book title, genre, and word count? Why do you want to see this first? It seems to me that the blurb should go first since this is what will hook you (hopefully). If you love the blurb, are sold on the concept, and are already thinking of editors who would love it, might you overlook a less-than-impressive title, a possibly mismatched genre, and/or a word count that suggests the book needs editing? I wonder if putting that "housekeeping" first may turn you off a blurb you would otherwise fall for.

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