Oh the dreaded query letter...
For most, writing a compelling query letter to capture an agent is one of the hardest and most frustrating tasks on the journey to becoming a published author. For many, they put this off until the very last moment, until they absolutely have to write one.
But to a select few, like myself, writing a query and the actual process of querying is one of the BEST parts of the entire writing adventure! Yes, I'll say it out loud, I LOVE WRITING QUERY LETTERS. Love. And I love querying even more.
Okay, so I'll agree the entire process can be frustrating, but, it can also be very exciting! Tell me you don't constantly hit refresh on your email when you have query letters out to see if you've gained any responses? Tell me you don't stalk agents on Twitter to see if they've said anything recently on queries they've received -- hoping it might even be yours? And how awesome does it feel when an agent requests a partial, or better yet, a full? That feeling right there is amazing, right?
Of course the flip side of all this is the rejections that come along with querying and oh do they suck...believe me, after years of querying myself, I totally understand. But I promise the entire journey of querying and writing query letters can be turned around from a dismal process to an exciting adventure, with just one small tweak of how you look at things:
When you query and you get a response - even if it's a rejection - you're actually hearing from someone in the writing business...and that in itself is priceless.
A real, bona fide agent read your query letter and maybe even some of your pages. They took a handful of minutes out of their day to look at what you sent them -- your submit, a midst an entire in-box of query letters from other writers. (Yes, sometimes it's their assistant that wades through the slush pile -- but come on, we've all heard the story of how Stephenie Meyer snagged her agent at Writers House, so don't diss the assistants!) And maybe they took a few seconds to give you some feedback -- maybe they didn't and it was just a form R.
In the end, it's all about the maybe. And the maybe is the best part.
I'd love to hear comments: what do you love or what frustrates you the most when it comes to query letters and querying?
*** Over the years, I found several websites / tools that helped during my query writing / querying process -- here are a few of the best:
1. QueryTracker.net - Hands down (at least in my opinion) the BEST query tracking site out there. Period. It's free to use, but to gain access to better reports and tools, there is a $25 / yearly fee you can pay to join as a Premium Member -- $25 of the best dollars I've ever spent in my writing journey.
2. AgentQuery.com - Direct from their site:
Recognized by Writer's Digest Magazine June 2013 Issue as one of the Best Websites for Writers. Ninth Year in a Row!
AgentQuery.com offers the largest, most current searchable database of literary agents on the web—a treasure trove of reputable, established literary agents seeking writers just like you. And it's free (not because there's a catch, but simply because not enough things in this world are free).
Provides membership information for publishing professionals and provides web pages for writers and agents to promote themselves.
Query Seminars & Classes:
1. Writers Digest: They offer several great query letter workshops throughout the year and often times, by some amazing agents. I've taken a couple of seminars through WD - one with Agent Sarah Megibow and another one more recently this past September, with Agents Jim McCarthy and Kate McKean.
Upcoming classes on WD:
Workshop: Writing The Query Letter with instructor Fred Wright
Webinar: The Art Of The Query: Winning An Agent From The Very First Page with Agent Michelle Brower (Folio Literary Management)
Webinar: Beyond The Query: Catching & Keeping An Agent with Agent Jennifer Laughran
1. QUERY: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO GET STARTED, GET NOTICED, AND GET SIGNED by C. J. Redwine
2. THE WRITERS DIGEST GUIDE TO QUERY LETTERS by Wendy Burt-Thomas
Of course I can't forget to include how I met my agent -- #MSWL on Twitter. For those that don't know what that means, #MSWL stands for Manuscript Wish List: a day when literary agents Tweet their wish lists for manuscripts they hope will find a way into their slush pile. It happens a few times a year and was started by agent Jessica Sinsheimer, so make sure to follow her on Twitter for upcoming dates and times for #MSWL. Of course, many agents use the hashtag from time to time, so it's worth occasionally checking out, just in case.
Agent & Writer Websites:
1. Agent Janet Reid: the infamous Query Shark. Fair warning: this site isn't for the faint of heart, but it can be one of the best query advice sites you'll come across. Ever. If you have the nerve, you can submit your own query to the Query Shark and have Janet give you constructive criticism on your query, live on the site for all to see. Check out some of her posts to see what I mean...but don't say I didn't warn you.
2. (Former agent) Mary Kole: -- Mary's KidLit site is full of helpful querying and writing advice and if you're looking for a great CP, she also does these crazy CP Blind Date days -- which is how Heidi (aka Guppy Guts Skullcracker) and I first met many years ago!
3. Nathan Bransford: former literary agent, turned MG writer, Nathan's site is hands down one of the best for information on all things writing, querying included.
4. Miss Snark's First Victim: Authoress conducts some of the best agent finding contests throughout the year, which just might be your answer to bypassing the entire query writing / query process in total!