5.01.2006

More on Query Letter Suckage

Dear Miss Snark,

You said, “Most queries suck. Most writers can't write query letters to save their lives. Odds are you are one of those people. This is not a comment on your query cause I haven't read it but if I know that most ie 75-80% of query letters suck, I'd be an idiot to bet yours didn't.”

So, if 75-80% of query letters suck, is it only the 25-20% of letters that don’t suck that get representation? What if the query letter sucks, but the actual novel doesn’t? How will the agent/editor ever know the novel is good if they pass because the query sucks? Do agents request work even if the query sucks? If so, what in the sucky query makes them request to see the manuscript?



IF you are a SMART Snarkling, you put five pages of your actual writing in with your query. I do read pages even if the query letter sux. Mostly the pages suck too, but sometimes, just enough to keep me hoping, they don't. And even if the query letter sux, if it's a topic I'm interested in, I'll overlook it. Remember, I want to find saleable projects. It's your writing I'm going to sell, not your query letter. I'd be the Nitwit of the Century to overlook good writing cause you can't query to save your life. That doesn't mean skate on your query letter though AT ALL. If the query letter sux, I'm giving your pages a very very fast look, just to make sure it does suck. This is NOT the place you want to be.

14 comments:

Elektra said...

BUT, just to keep us writers insane, Agent Kristen has said that she only reads the sample pages IF she likes the query...

Sarah Addison Allen said...

Query letters are like opening acts. You want to warm the audience up, not make them think it's the perfect opportunity to go to the can before the real show starts.

BuffySquirrel said...

Is a smart Snarkling a Smarkling?

DanStrohschein said...

You can tell a lot from a query letter.

1. Can the writer follow instructions?
2. Can the writer at least produce something not riddled with mechanical errors?
3. Can the writer use their voice to write a hook that actually hooks?

If these questions are answered yes, chances are the writer might be able to do the same in their book. I don't know why we authors spend hours of time polishing a novel if we are just going to wax over the query letter. We should spend time making sure the query letter has, at the least, the 3 statements above marked with 'Yes'. Yes - the query letter, in my opinion, should be the most important piece a writer can put together after the book. Make it perfect because, well, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

lizzie26 said...

Query letters aren't that hard. Just keep them short, simple, and to the point.

archer said...

Query letters aren't that hard. Just keep them short, simple, and to the point.

Oh, Lizzie, when it's your 100K-word novel you're writing about, there is nothing on God's green earth more difficult.

Rei said...

Actually, I do have a question about queries.

1) Miss Snark always tells us to include 5-10 pages (or sometimes, just 5 pages) with every query.

2) Miss Snark always tells us to follow the agent's rules.

These seem contradictory when the agent doesn't ask for pages. Can anyone clarify?

Meg said...

Rei, I think she means send pages unless the agent's rules specifically state not to send pages.

Elektra said...

Rei, please check the Snarkives...I believe your question has come up a few times before

Anonymous said...

Am I wrong in thinking that if you keep your query to the format Miss Snark suggested a few blog entries back, and stick to the purpose of the query, that even if not brilliant, the query won't suck?

anon-y-mouse

Rei said...

Elektra: I read the snarkives very recently, and I didn't see an answer to that.

Meg: Thanks!

Elektra said...

It's definitely there

spaulson said...

Meg said...
Rei, I think she means send pages unless the agent's rules specifically state not to send pages.


That's my understanding too.

Dhewco said...

I got to be honest with you...I find 'good queries' to be entirely subjective with some agents. After all, Kristen liked my query well enough to ask for a sample...but she was the only one.


So, either she liked the basic idea and overlooked my sucky query..or she liked the query. Never did find out which.


David