Wednesday, January 13, 2010

WIP Wednesday : Crafting the Query

Okay, so I'm still revising Mara's story. And it STILL doesn't have a title. But I'm working on my query already. I sweat over my queries, researching and planning, and cutting and pasting and offering them up for the slaughter on forums like Query Tracker or Absolute Write. Maybe query-writing seems like a necessary evil, but I like to write a query as I'm revising just to make sure I'm on the right track.

So what is the right choice when it comes to query crafting? I've written queries that read like a synopsis, or like jacket copy, and others that are more evocative than tell about the actual plot. I've written queries of all kinds. I even tried to use Query Tracker to see which of my queries got the most requests. I wish I could tell you that one worked the best, but my results don't show any determinable pattern. Some liked the informative query, others the evocative, and still others responded favorably to the original, three-paragraph pitch query, making it 5! paragraphs all together.

Which just goes to show you how subjective (yes, I used the "S" word!) the decision to request pages is. And if you've done the amount of insanity-inducing research I've done, you'll note that many agents want something different in their query guidelines.

My request rate for the first fifty-three queries for EVANGELINE went as follows:

53 Sent
4 Still Out
9 Partial Requests
3 Full Requests
28 Rejections
9 Closed / No Response

And note that all 3 full requests were based on just the query. I have yet to have an agent request a full off a partial. You can make yourself nuts trying to tailor your query to each agent, but just remember that in the end, it's the pages that make the difference.

So make those pages shine!


Tamika: said...

Tere you always manage to touch on the right topic at the right time! Thanks for being so open about your process. You have had some good results. Keep going!

Voidwalker said...

That's pretty impressive numbers. 3 fulls is awesome. Even having partials is quite exiting. I will keep my fingers crossed for you.

As for query style, I'm boggled by all the different advice people give. In the end, I'm sure it mostly depends on the mood of the agent/publisher when they get your query. lol

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I say ditto to both Tamika and Void. They took my comments! :-)

Great post, Tere.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Ahh the query wars. Why do we torture ourselves with such a tough battle? Oh yeah, because it's part of the process. You had a great success rate though! Well done.
Click for My Blog

L.T. Elliot said...

I imagine queries are nerve wracking. I've only written two letters (based on requests) and that was nerve-wracking enough!

Sara McClung ♥ said...

I wrote my query when about halfway through my first draft. And rewrote it about 3/4 of the way through and am reworking it now that I'm revising and will probably do it over again before I send any out, lol.

Awesome successes for you!! Can't wait to hear the big agent announcement :-)

Hardygirl said...

Agreed! Impressive numbers.

I have a terrible time with queries! I have no magic secrets, and you're exactly right about the "s" word.


Anissa said...

You are absolutely right, it's all about the pages. Though a good query never hurts. :)

Elana Johnson said...

You're last sentence is the key. The pages are what make it. However, the gate is the query. And if you can't get the pages in front of them... Which is why I always included pages with my queries. Always!