Naughty Query: Tip #3

This tip actually comes in handy after you have written the query. After you have sent the query. After you have sweated and waited… weeks, maybe months. After you have gotten a reply from the agent, and that reply is a rejection.

This past weekend I was at the wonderful Southern California Writers’ Conference at which I sat on an agent’s panel and answered some questions about the query process. During the panel, one of the agents said (roughly paraphrased) “After we have rejected you, please resist that urge to fire off a really nasty reply to us. Agents are people too, we have feelings too.”

I’ve dealt with my fair share of irate replies after a rejection letter, but for some reason I thought I deserved it, and I tried to empathize with the writer. But I think this particular agent made a really great point. And so tip #3 is to resist the fuming reply after a rejection.

Naughty Query: Tip #2

So I am changing the name of Operation Query Tip to Naughty Query, because I already have too many operations going on…AND I try to use the word “naughty” as much as possible.

So today’s naughty query comes in the form of cliffhangers!! Ahhhhhhh!

I receive a lot of queries that give a great albeit extremely long-winded, overly detailed summary of what I would guess to be the first 50 pages of their manuscript. And then they leave it off with: “If you are interested, I am prepared to send you the completed manuscript, etc…”

The rejection will most likely come swiftly if this is your approach to querying. Even if the beginning of your book sounds mind-blowing. The truth of the matter is: I don’t have time to write you back and ask you for more details (which I will need before I ask for a full manuscript).

I’ll be honest with you, this is one of those fine lines that sucks to walk. You need to give your prospective agent just the right amount of information: not too much, not too little. Goldilocks, again. There should be a beginning, middle, and end to your query as with your manuscript. I should know the main characters, the main conflict and at least a hint of the resolution, if there is one. And that’s JUST the description of the book. That doesn’t include information about you, or any other facts about the manuscript like why it is important, viable, and different, etc. So keep the description succinct.

The overall takeaway from this Naughty Query post is NO CLIFFHANGERS!!! No one likes a cliffhanger in a query. Leave those to television dramas.

UPDATE:

I got a tweet from @emilytastic  that said: “Great post! I wrestled with whether or not to include my twist in the query – I do now, tho I hear some would rather be surprised”

If your book has a wicked twist–not all do–I prefer just a hint of the twist not the whole revelation. Also, she brings up a very valid point. Take all my advice with a grain of salt. Every agent is different. That’s why it is good to do your research and know how the agent you are querying likes to be queried.