Monday, May 14, 2012

My Query's Been Ripped to Shreds and Why I'm Happy About It

My friend, Phoenix Sullivan, has graciously fixed her impressive talents on my query and ripped it to shreds, line by line. You can find it at her blog, Phoenix Sullivan: Dare to Dream.
For those who aren’t writers, the query is the letter you use to introduce your book to prospective agents or editors. Think of that blurb on the inside of a book’s dust jacket or on the back cover. It’s meant to entice while at the same time condensing the entire substance of a two hundred page novel into two hundred and fifty words without giving away the ending. And it must have that elusive ‘voice’. One mustn’t forget the voice or the style to your words that makes them stand above the crowd. In other words, it’s the nastiest torture device known to budding authors, specifically designed to winnow the wheat from the chaff.
Most writers are too close to their work to write an effective query. That’s certainly true with me. We understand exactly what we’re trying to get across, but forget that nobody else has read the novel so it comes out clear as mud. It makes perfect sense to us, but leaves everyone else baffled. We spend days and days, creating one revision after another, usually making the situation worse. That’s where a friend’s opinion becomes worth its weight in gold. A friend can put you on the right track.
It’s time to close out all these mixed up metaphors with one more. Phoenix, thanks for riding your white horse to my rescue. Now I’m ready to create query number hundred and ten.


  1. So true - we are usually much too close to write a good query. I know I was and really struggled (and still don't feel like I nailed it). I think resumes and query letters should be written by someone other than the "author" :-)

  2. Hi Michelle
    Nice blog.
    Good to see you've got another story under your belt - well done! I meant it when I said it sounds really interesting, genre crossovers are cool!
    Best of luck with the agents.

  3. If it makes you feel better, Michelle, I always run my blurbs and queries by others as well. The shredding apart and rebuilding is usually the best thing that can happen, and I always come out with a stronger blurb or query because of it. I think you nailed it when you said we're too close to our work to have the persepective needed. Here's to 2012 being your year!

  4. Thanks again, Phoenix. You really nailed it.