Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Query Letter Blues

Confession Time: I've come to the conclusion that my query letter sucks.

As detailed in an earlier post, Elizabeth Lyon holds to the 30% rule: if you don't net a 30% return on your queries, re-write the dang thang. After all, it's your query letter that stinks, not your novel...

So, I've sent out 10 queries, and I've received four polite, kind, and professional rejections so far. The good news is that the turn-around time was pretty swift. The other good news is that I haven't yet received the full 10. And the final good news is that when I've received that eighth rejection, I'll know that I need to re-write my query.

In the mean-time, I'm contemplating posting my query here and asking for your professional opinions. On the other hand, I'm not certain how that would be perceived in the publishing world -- and although I am a newbie, I don't want to act like an amateur...especially if there are negative consequences for such openness.
What to do?

14 comments:

Kameron said...

Post it. I did the same a year ago, and I've seen numerous editors/agents hold "query workshops" via their blogs. I found the exercise immensely helpful.

Anthony said...

Sure, post it. I've posted mine, it's on my blog under "HW Novels".

So, I showed you mine, you can show me yours.

Snerk.

Anthony said...

Oh, and don't forget your obligatory rejection post sometime in the future! This one doesn't count.

Snerk x2!

Iapetus999 said...

I have mine posted everywhere I can put it, and I have received tons of (sometimes conflicting) advice.
We'll whip it into shape.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm horrible at query letters myself.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Have you checked out Rick Daley's Public Query Slushpile? Or maybe you don't want to hang it out there quite so openly. There have been some pretty good ones posted that got better with comments.

Gary Corby said...

QueryShark might be a good place to send it.

No one's going to get upset if you post the query for review.

JKB said...

I'd agree with Gary. Query Shark is good. Otherwise, you could sign up at AbsoluteWrite.com and use their forum feature for feedback. Do you have a critique group? Send it to them. You want my help? You got it, just let me know.

I dunno about posting it to your blog, though.

stu said...

Queries are odd, aren't they? We can produce a perfectly good novel (sorry, that should read "brilliant", shouldn't it, I forget to be suitably upbeat sometimes) but we can't write a letter.

So many other people seem to have done similar things that I can't see too many problems with posting your basic query letter.

MG Higgins said...

This is such a good question! Personally, I don't think I'd publish a query on my blog--it does feel too public IMO. I'd use my crit group first and then ask for beta readers if necessary.

Lady Glamis said...

I would love to help you with your query if you post it. Not sure how much help I can be, but I'm game. MG might have a point about it being too public, but it's not like you can't take it down later after you've received feedback. You could also consider emailing it to those who offer help. Just some thoughts!

Good luck! Query Letter Blues is such a sad title. I hope you're not feeling too down.

Laura Canon said...

I have posted mine, or a beta version of it, and got some good feedback. But it all depends on the level of comfort you have with such things.
I have to say that my comfort level is very low -- I've always been extremely private about writing and a lot of other personal things. Slowly I am pushing myself to be more open. Am I always happy about this? No. But I can say that most of the things that have happened from this have been positive.

Empress Awesome said...

Query letters are harder the write than novels. They suck. When you figure out how to do it, please don't hesitate to fill us all in on the secret

Alex Moore said...

Thank you, everyone, for your kindness and thoughtfulness and willingness to commiserate w/ me. This truly is what a writing community should be :) You all rock!

I really do appreciate the advice, offers, and encouragment from everyone...and it seems that simply blogging about it, then hearing your answers, and thinking on it HAS helped.

Now I know why my query sucked. I don't know why I know this now vs earlier, but it suddenly hit me --> and now I'm revising, methodically and carefully. We'll see if the new version sucks any less :P