Tip of the Day: If you cross your fingers REALLY hard while you hit send on that e-mail query your chances of an agent requesting a partial or full goes up by 33%. (Note: Findings based on a study conducted by one person. Me.)
This being luck o’ the query week and all has made me think about my own querying process and how much luck was involved. I do think there was a certain amount of luck involved—I mean, trying to hit the right agent at the right time with the right idea is pretty tricky. You can send the same query to one agent who will say it is fab and another who will say it is horrible. Well, they say it much nicer but you know what I mean. And you only have like 30 seconds to catch an agent’s attention and get them to want to read more. Some agents get 300 queries a week so yeah—this can be tough.
Writing that first query is a serious task—especially if you aren’t sure of what you’re doing. Which I totally wasn’t. But I knew that it was vital to figure out how to be querylicious if I was going to get anywhere. So the first thing I did when I was getting ready to write my query was a google search for query writing tips. I found a lot of hits but one specific site that helped me was Robyn Schneider’s article, Defeat The "un's": How to elicit interest in your first novel because she is a) a YA author so writing similar stuff and b) she gave a breakdown of what should go into each paragraph. Things like starting with a hook etc. I won’t summarize the whole article here but it is pretty good so go check it out.
My first query for my book PASS BOOK was lucky I think. It wasn’t perfect (though I thought so at the time) and it was LONG (page and a half). Note: Long isn’t what you should be striving for. But at the time I thought I needed all of that information in the query to get the point across. So I was pretty hardheaded and never shortened the query. Luckily, my agent looked past my long-windedness and offered to represent me anyway. It wasn’t until I read her summary of my book (which was, you know, the appropriate 3-4 sentences) that I realized you COULD get my point across in a shorter version. Go figure.
I have to say I did much better lengthwise on my second query for THE ESPRESSOLOGIST though. I didn’t query very long with Espressologist because my agent offer came for book #1 only a month or so after I started querying book #2. But I think I did a better job on it. And the majority of the agents that I did query requested either a partial or full and I got a second agent offer from this one. I’ll let you be the judge and copy it below.
Dear Ms. Agent:
The Espressologist is In
Fridays 6-10 p.m.
Come in for a little latte and love.
That’s the sign outside of a local Chicago Wired Joe’s every Friday night when jerky boss Derek Peters finds out about 17-year old barista and high school senior Jane Turner’s unique talent to match couples based on their favorite coffee drink (which she calls Espressology). He decides to capitalize on it—turning Jane into the holiday promotion for the month of December. She’s never been wrong, sales are through the roof, and the line of people each Espressology night wraps the block. But can it be too much of a good thing? During an interview with a talk show at the height of Jane’s fame, she is faced with a dilemma, lose her love or lose her credibility? Or possibly lose it all, including her best friend.
Light and a lot of fun, my young adult novel, “The Espressologist” is complete at 42,000 words.
In addition to my love for writing fiction (specifically YA), I am also a freelance writer and writing instructor at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. I received my Master of Arts in Writing from DePaul and I've also written for Writer's Digest magazine as well as a number of Web sites (including AbsoluteWrite.com, Writing-World.com, pregnancyandbaby.com, sheknows.com, CoolChyck.com, and a weekly 'Net Love column for the former Relationship101.com for over a year).
I came across your name in my search for an agent with experience in the young adult market and I feel that you would do a great job representing my novel. Would you be interested in seeing a full manuscript?
So what do you think? I start out jumping right into the hook of my book and give a quick summary. Then I give the 411 on it (genre, title, word count) and the blah blah blah about myself, ending with the big question—do you want to read the book?
Ok, maybe querylicious is too strong of a word here and this query is just ok. I’m still not even sure and I could probably rewrite it over and over again but eventually you have to consider it good, stop, and send if you are going to get somewhere with it right?
What do you guys think makes a query querylicious?
Kristina, Miss Soon-to-Pub