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Query Formatting

Posted: March 18th, 2010, 3:33 pm
by JaEvans

I was wonding if a few of you can speak a bit about something I have come across. Before I wrote my original query letter I researched online. I went to a number of agent websites and followed the links they had to sites which gave general guidelines for writing a query. The guidlines were similar on every site I went to so that is what I followed. They were:

Start with an intro like "I am looking for an agent"
State the name of the book, any sequils you may be working on, and the word count
Write a two to three sentence "hook"
Below that write a single paragraph "synopsis"
Below that write a single paragraph "bio" of anything interesting about yourself
Follow that with something like "Please consider my work and I have enclosed a SASA for your convenience"

I wrote my query letter like this, it was promptly rejected by a number of agents by form letter, and I have since found this site.

In the query section not a single query is writting with the above formatting. I am just wondering if anyone else has found confusing guidelines to writing a query letter? The ones above were presented as the industry standard but it seems that this is the furthest from that truth that something can get.

Any comments or ideas?

Re: Query Formatting

Posted: March 18th, 2010, 4:33 pm
by Holly
The guidelines you mention look about right. However, I see several spelling mistakes in your post. One spelling mistake might be a typo, but several mistakes mean you have a problem that's bigger than the query letter format.

The letter and the novel should be in professional condition. Does your novel have spelling errors? Check your letter and your novel for spelling and grammar errors before you send anything else.

Good luck to you.

Re: Query Formatting

Posted: March 18th, 2010, 6:54 pm
by JaEvans
Thanks Holly,

I don't spell check forum posts but my novel has been gone over a number of times. I don't want to critisize but an answer that is actually related to the question might be a bit more constructive and helpful.

I see you agreeing that the format outline I put up sounds correct but that does not answer why it is not reflected in the query letters I have seen posted on these forums. If I am going to radically change my letter it would be nice to know that I am moving in the right direction rather than away from it. That's all.

Re: Query Formatting

Posted: March 18th, 2010, 7:04 pm
by Quill
There is no synopsis in a query. Instead there is setting, hook, and conflict, in one paragraph, usually. The purpose of the query is not to tell the story, it is simply to get an agent to request more. The query contains your pitch. A synopsis is altogether different.

The reasons for your rejections should be clear from the feedback you got in your query critique thread. Is is not?

Re: Query Formatting

Posted: March 18th, 2010, 8:22 pm
by JaEvans
Hi Quill

Yes that is for certain and I thank you again for your input. If you look back at that post I have revised my query letter based in large part on what you had to say.

My question is not specifically about my letter. My question is about misleading information on the internet. I was just wondering if anyone else has come across this problem. It would also be good to get a list of ligit sites to use as resources.

Thank you again Quill for your feedback on the query letter. I would be peleased if you could look at my revision as well if you have not already.

Re: Query Formatting

Posted: March 20th, 2010, 10:47 am
by Erica75
If you're looking at agent blogs already, maybe you could make changes according to that agent's specifications and send out different versions. For example, some like an intro "I am looking for an agent for my first novel" etc. and others say that's a waste of words (they already know you're looking for an agent). Some say to mention sequels, some say they don't care about anything but the book you have finished. Most say even if the formatting, etc. sucks - they'll ask for a partial if it's a compelling story and go from there. So that's my advice - get your compelling story in there! I'm not sure if I've seen your query - I'll go looking for it now.

Re: Query Formatting

Posted: March 20th, 2010, 12:52 pm
by JaEvans
Thanks for that Erica75. I think that is what it is. Rather than misleading it is possible that there are just that many variations in what agents want. You write a single query letter but it really needs to be customized for each agent depending on what there specific variances are.