Writing the Query Before the Book

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Feb 06 2020

I’ve long been an advocate of writing your query letter, or at least the blurb before you start writing your manuscript. I strongly believe the query should be part of the writing process and not a separate piece.

As you write, the book will shift and change. Your characters will take on new traits and your plot will go in directions you never imagined. Some of these changes are good. Others take you down the wrong road. Being able to identify the right path early on helps create a stronger book and easier revisions.

The query’s job is more than just pitching agents. It also helps keep you focused. Is your book still in line with the original blurb? If not, can you rewrite the blurb to fit or is that no longer a possibility?

One of the biggest struggles authors have with blurbs is that the manuscript needs work. Writing the manuscript in line with the blurb can help eliminate that at later stages.

For more information, check out this video on our YouTube channel:

6 responses to “Writing the Query Before the Book”

  1. Avatar Karen Rosenberg says:

    You always have great advice along with an explanation. Thank you for giving us your time.

  2. Avatar Diana Manley says:

    Great suggestion, Jessica! Hadn’t thought of that before but it makes perfect sense.

  3. Avatar Ann Struck says:

    As a pantser, and wanna be plotter, when I saw your YouTube video, where you advise incorporating both the query blurb and synopsis in the writing process from the get-go–ding, ding,ding–OF COURSE!
    Despite eliciting critiques, scouring the Query Shark blog and reading book blurbs until my software freezes, I’m having a devil of a time perfecting my blurb. But I shall prevail! I’ll not be taken out by a three paragraph blurb, even if it kills me.
    Blurb revision # 2020: “The devil was encamped in the center of Kate’s soul. But she had a plan for eviction….”

  4. Avatar Kathleen Schwab says:

    Wow. A great idea. I just realized I thought I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to write the query yet.

  5. Avatar AJ Blythe says:

    I ALWAYS write my query letter and synopsis before I write a word of my manuscript. Best change to my writing approach I’ve ever made. And the best thing is, when you write “the end” on your manuscript you only have to tweak the query letter and synopsis. So nice to have that woo hoo feeling from finishing and not have it quelled by the realisation that “dreaded synopsis” and query letter are now waiting to be written 😉

  6. Avatar Greg Blair says:

    A reply to Ann re being challenged writing a query. I too scoured the gazillion Query Shark queries, took notes on QS’s critiques of them, which helped a lot. I then decided to sign up to have her personally look at my query and the first five pages of my ms. It was absolutely eye opening. Her comments alone on the first five pages allowed me to see that I could rearrange the early chapters to present a story that starts off with a bang and provided more justification/motivation for the characters to do what they were originally doing. And having QS personally review the query for three drafts was reeeeaaaaaallly (really!) helpful. Just saying…..