On Writing Queries

You’ve all heard me groan (Or, as Mark Haddon’s character Christopher in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime puts it, “doing groaning.” Everyone should read this amazing book.) these last few days about writing an agent query letter in the hopeful attempts of getting one to pick me up as client and help me get my books published. In a funny way, this task has been more daunting to me than writing a book ever was, and I’ve been putting it off for about two years. Yeah, I’m an excellent procrastinator that way. In the meantime, I’ve pored through endless websites and agent blogs trying to learn the secret formula for writing a good, eye-catching, totally un-ignorable pitch. Of course, there is no secret formula, only good writing and an ability to be succinct and to the point. Okay, that’s easy to do if you’re born that way, but most writers, by nature of enjoying communicating through words, do so with a rather high volume of words. We digress, we ramble, we tell multiple stories at once, just trying to fit in everything we have to say. So, summing up your book in a single paragraph, to a writer, or at least to me, has been an akin to undergoing major surgery.

However, I survived. A couple of weeks ago, I attended a webinar on how to write a winning query lead by Rachelle Gardener at Wordserve Literary Agency. Aside from the stupendous presentation she put on and the wonderful pointers and tips, Rachelle was kind enough to offer a pitch critique to each of the attendees. I struggled, I bled from the brain, I sighed, I cringed, but I eventually wrote my pitch and sent it off to her with, to be totally clich√© (it’s my blog and I occasionally like some kitsch in my life), baited breath.

She responded in just a couple of days, and I was really overjoyed. There were minor edits, but they were really minor. Wow! She commented that it was a “strong” pitch. Eureka! These are the kinds of little victories that reinvigorate me.

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All content copyright unless otherwise specified © 2008-2013 by Tammy Salyer, writer. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided proper attribution is given.