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Writing the Query that Grabs Me #querytip

A reader asks:

Would you mind telling me what really resonates for you personally in an author’s query? If you have time. 🙂 Thanks!

Thanks to query manager it’s really easy for me to look over past queries to see what I requested, but also what the query was that started a relationship with a new client. So to answer this question I did a little research, primarily to see if there was any consistency in the queries.

There wasn’t.

In the end, each query either had a voice, a plot point, or a theme that appealed to me, but all the books I looked at were completely different in tone, style, and even genre. In one case it was the mention of elephants, in another, it was an #ownvoices story, another was women’s fiction featuring what could best be described as a mid-life crisis and in another, it was magical realism. Some were YA, some thriller, women’s fiction, and suspense.

And, here’s the clincher, not all were incredibly written queries. They were fine, and they all contained a compelling enough blurb to grab my attention, but in no instance did I use that exact blurb for my own pitch. They all needed work.

I hope instead of seeing this blog post as discouraging because it doesn’t give you those exact selling points that will grab me, you see it as inspiring. You see how imperfect and subjective the query process is and that what agents are really looking for is something that sounds interesting and exciting.

Category: BlogFaust

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8 comments

  1. I was at an event with 3 agents last week. They were all from different agencies but all use the same submission process.
    They all talked about how they look at submissions and all 3 did it differently.
    The only thing they agreed on is that a bad query letter is always bad. And there isn’t really a ‘good’ query letter because everyone’s interests are different.

    It made sense at the time but you’ve put it into context. You picked a book to read because the query had elephants in, my mum would probably do the same.
    Me? I am so sick of the sight of elephants, I’d hide under the desk while someone else made sure I was safe from elephant take over.

  2. I am convinced that my query is my sinking ship in the middle of a foggy night. I love my own book as if it is my firstborn child, with all its perfect inperfections. And so, I probably will continue to query bookendsliterary until someone turns blue and concedes!

    1. That’s an approach I hadn’t thought about trying Debra.
      I think that’s how I know my book isn’t ready, I love my characters and the world they live in. My manuscript, not yet, bits of it, but not all of it.
      When I do beat it into submission, I might just try your method.

  3. Didn’t see this as discouraging because it’s great to know a query doesn’t have to be query to garner interest.

    Although perhaps writing an #ownvoices magical realism women’s fiction with elephants might help 😉

  4. Okay, so proofreading before posting is a good idea. That should read “…doesn’t have to be perfect to garner interest”. Duh!

  5. Excellent! The moral I took out of this? Be yourself. Some people will love you, others won’t, but you’ll always be you. Thank you, this was a boost of self-confidence!

  6. I find this response very encouraging.
    This means I don’t have to follow the trend, and hope you find that one thing that makes the story appealing.
    It also means this ache that stabs my heart every time I hear ‘query’ will not kill me after all!

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