"The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure." Sven Goran Erikkson
At a recent writers meeting, someone asked if I'd started submitting my work. After telling her that I had, she confessed something to me. Although her book was finished, she was terrified about writing the query letter. This is understandable, but we've got to put the fear behind us, and as Nike says, "just do it!"
Some agents tell writers not to be intimidated by the query process. One agent's website even says, "Many writers fear queries, but that shouldn't frighten you off. They're easy!" Although this is comforting advice (and the site does offer a tutorial), a lot rides on that query!
Nicholas Sparks says, "Above all, a query letter is a sales pitch and it is the single most important page an unpublished writer will ever write. It's the first impression and will either open the door or close it. It's that important, so don't mess it up. Mine took seventeen drafts and two weeks to write." WOW!
If you've never written a query, there are lots of great books out there to help, such as The Writer's Digest Guide to Query Letters and Elana Johnson's From the Query to the Call. Also, several generous authors provide advice online for free, such as Charlotte Dillon (www.charlottedillon.com/query.html), Holly Lisle (www.hollylisle.com/index.php/Professionalism/how-to-query-an-agent.html), and the aforementioned Elana Johnson (http://www.elanajohnson.blogspot.com/).
Query Shark (http://www.queryshark.blogspot.com/) will even review your query and make suggested changes. Just Googling "sample query letter" will bring up tons of information to get you on your way, as well!
But is there a secret to writing a great query? A book I read when first learning how said to use bold colorful words. Since then I've read agent interviews in which agents say, "There's no need to try to wow us with flamboyant words."
As far as the format, one agent might say, "Jump right into the story," while another says, "Starting with the genre and word count is great!"
Writer's Digest featured some standout queries in its October issue. The query comments made by the agents indicated things such as clean prose, strong conflicts, high stakes, twists, and unique stories.
Even though most of us think we've shown that in our queries, agents are looking for what sells. And sometimes, it's the luck of the draw. If your query falls into the hands of someone who absolutely loves your story, and believes in it, then you just might have a chance!
So push the fear aside, write the best query you can, and go for it!
If you've already written a query letter, how long did it take you?
Tweet me @:maria_mckenzie. Thanks for stopping by!