Get to the point!

Dear Ms.Snark, (Miss Snark!)

There always seems to be a discussion on writer's boards re: how a query to an agent should read. Some say start off with a hook and a paragraph about the book because agents read so many queries a day, and they want to know immediately what the book is about.

Others say start out with a one or two sentence intro, such as "I have read that you represent mysteries, and I'm inquiring if you might be interested in representing my novel, Mystery Mystery." Then on to about the book, etc.

What's your opinion?

I'm in favor of you talking about your book, which I don't know about, rather than my fabulosity, which is of course well known to all.

I like a hook at the start. Hard to write good ones, but if you get and keep my interest I'm more likely to read your pages at something other than the speed of light.

All that namby pamby compliment shit is just blah blah blah. Winter is horrid enough without adding to the blahs.


Kagura Shinra said...

That's really good advice. If I was an agent, I don't think I could take 100 queries starting off with "I read on your website that you're inerested in blah blah blah." I've lost interest. Think about it. Wouldn't you like to be that one that stands out?

Anonymous said...

Well, if you started your query, "My best bud George Clooney is coming by next week, and I was wondering if you'd like to hang with us for a while," I don't think your writing would much matter.

If your best bud isn't George--and I hate make this analogy but watching it with my kids is a guilty pleasure--think of your query as American Idol. You have 10 seconds to make an impression. It doesn't matter how you structure your query, if you write something that demands attention.

Anonymous said...

I have to hope my query doesn't end up on Miss Snark's desk. The opening line is "There's no bathtub gin in these teacups," and I'm sure she'd lose interest right there.

With the total absence of gin established, she'd never go on to read the rest of the sentence, which is "so who invited Al Capone?"

Miss Snark said...

Jimmy Hoffa!

Anonymous said...

Cynthia writes:

A reminder, and one Miss Snark has beaten into our heads: follow the agent's guidelines!

You'd be surprised how many agent websites out there have the exact recipe for the query letter they like to receive. Go forth and hunt.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, my query letter starts with the reason I'm contacting the agent (because they rep Authors X & Z). To date, about 60 percent of the agents I've contacted have asked for partials or fulls.

Cyclus said...

I think it's time for another Crap-o-meter, one that doesn't drain the blood out of Miss Snark like a tipped-over pail of Tanqueray. How about a Crap-o-meter of query hooks--no more than two sentences?

Renee said...

I like the query idea - but I think it should be just one sentence. But I would also like to run the 3-sentence synopsis through the Crapometer.