Saturday, November 13, 2010

Queries and such

Good Morning. I hope everyone has had a great start to their weekend.

So today I am starting some tweaks on my manuscript while watching SouthLAnd. Probably not a good idea since I have a habit of typing what I hear. Once I replaced "face" with "family". My poor crit partner. I feel for her.

I also liked to say thanks to all the people who sent their congrats. I really appreciate it! Some news regarding Half-Blood. The tentative launch date is September 2011, possibly the 15th if all goes well. As it grows near that time, we hope to have some teasers up, sample chapters, awesome contests and free giveaways. There should be an official website coming soon and all that good stuff.

Some of your asked to see the "winning" query. I had about 20 versions of this sucker, I kid you not. The very first query I ever wrote for my very first novel I thought I could sell came in at a whopping 477 words. Yes, 477 words. That was before I found the Query Tracker forums and all the wonderful blogging gurus out there.

My second query for an adult novel, which received some requests and still is out there is agent land came in at 305 words.

Almost all my queries for my third novel, Half-Blood, usually came in around 150-181 words. My stats for this query or variations of it, 85 queries, 38 rejects, 2 requests for partials, 8 requests for fulls, 1 request to rewrite as an adult novel, and 1 offer. I have no idea what those statistics truly mean, but to help you put it into perspective, I am still receiving rejects.

Queries really are subjective. I know, the dreaded 'subjective' but it's true. And not just with agents, but also editors and crit members.

Now, it's rare that an editor is open to queries but that is why you scour the internet for those random moments when they are open to submissions if you have exhausted your agent list or want to move past an agent.

Anywho, here is the query. Even now, there are things I want to change about it. Things I could improve.

There's nothing like crushing on the hot, totally forbidden Aiden to help take Alexandria's mind off training to kill her mother.

When Alex's mother tasted the first drop of aether, the essence of the Gods, she lost her humanity and became the very thing seventeen-year-old Alex is training to kill - a daimon. Now she desires her half-blood daughter to become just like her.

Falling for Aiden, Alex's pure-blooded Instructor is a welcomed distraction, but hooking up with him will get her butt kicked out of the Covenant - a school for preparing halfs to kill daimons. Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden. Why? The Gods forbid it. Yeah, even Alex thinks that's a crap excuse. But even if she can resist her hormones - and that's a big if - she's not sure if she can fulfill the duty expected of her.

Killing her mom, evil aether sucker or not, is some deep stuff. If Alex can't face that possibility, she'll be forced into a life of servitude, the only alternative for Covenant drop-outs. Or worse, she could get turned into a daimon and be hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck too.

So there you have it. By no means is it perfect, but is does accomplish the important fundamentals of a query letter

1. A hook. A brief one or two sentence summary that captures both voice and the plot.

2. Established the characters, motivations, world, whatever (with voice)

3. Established conflict. What is the big deal? Why should we care?

4. Established what Alex has to loose/gain

Some of the best advice I can give you is to get over at places like the QT forum. There are wonderful, wonderful people over there who know their queries. Writers who are seeking representation, writers with agents, writers who are published, and so on.

Also, visit blogs -- lots of blogs-- There are always query critiques being handed out. For example, Phoenix Sullivan's Blogspot is always giving query crits and synopsis reviews. Blogs like Disgruntled Bear holds query contests when she's not hibernating or in edits or her novel Legacy. Operation Awesome holds one-line pitch contests every so often. There are so many, many more.

And there are always contests being offered through various agents, websites, and publishers. Enter as many as you can, because feedback from the professionals are priceless.

A bit of advice I picked up during this crazy process. You know that first query you write that is really good but is too long? Don't scrap it. Why? You have basic format of the dreaded synopsis.

All right, time to start writing. Peace out, home skillets.


  1. Thanks for sharing, Jennifer. I remember reading multiple versions of the query on QT, and I like the version you sent out. So glad Half-Blood's going to be available in less than a year! So cool!

    Congrats again!


  2. Great pointers. Not heard of the QT forum, will look it up Thanks :O)

  3. Thanks for the great pointers and tips. Your query does get the job done. Great job and thanks for sharing!