Monday, June 15, 2009

Don't Hate Me, But...

...I like writing query letters!

I really do. I've been reading a lot of blogs lately. Okay, not just lately, but all the time. (It was worth a try.) And I've noticed something: it seems that most people don't like writing a query letter.

I just don't have the same dislike.

In fact, I quite like writing my queries. I usually have the query letter done before the manuscript is completely written. It's not like I have to know how the book ends to write the query. Right?

I'm going to share a query letter I wrote for a novel that currently has 6000 words penned. And they are all made of "teh suck" and need to be deleted. In fact, I have a goal to write this book by hand, and I'm going to start over completely. Oh, and some of you will get a kick out of this: it's the same novel that I "outlined" a few weeks ago. Ha ha!

Here's the query for that "outline", for a book I haven't even really started on yet.

Sixteen-year-old Penelopie Baker has died 67 times can feel death approaching like you can feel rain falling on your skin. Penny thinks her 68th death will get her one step closer to being able to reclaim her lost life, but she’s dead (lol) wrong.

Because the death she feels is not her own, but that of a friend. Everyone thinks the drowning was an accident--until another classmate croaks under mysterious conditions. In order to get her years of service counted for this 68th life, Penny and her Servant partner, Blake, set out to find the true cause for two suspicious teenage deaths so close to home.

What they find makes all the bloody deaths they’ve experienced seem like pinpricks. They must find a way to bring the true murderer to justice or their next death will be permanent.

DYING TO LIVE is a young adult mystery, complete at 70,000 words.

I'm not saying this is, like, perfect or anything. I'd like to think it's pretty good, and that you could tell what the novel is about from it. Yes? No?

Like I said, I like writing the query letter almost as much, or more, than writing the novel. So much, that in this case, I wrote the query FIRST. What kind of crazy pills am I on? Or is this just another distraction tactic? You tell me.

I mean, you could try this guy's method, but I wouldn't recommend it. (But isn't that pic hilarious?)

So, of course, me being a human of the curious kind, I want to know WHY 99% of writers out there don't like writing the query. What's so bad about it?


Anonymous said...

I actually like writing them too. The query and the synopsis help focus my novel. And BTW, nice first try on your new query.

Tess said...

I hate you.



Jenna said...

I think the people that are more insecure about their writing are the most nervous about sending queries. It's serious and involves analyzing your novel to pull the main ideas, which you then squish down into a page.If you're worried about it being suckish at best, you get really, really nervous. It gave me hives for months, but now I'm enjoying it a lot.

I love that picture. :)

Jamie D. said...

I've never written one, so I'm not really qualified to comment. But it seems like it might actually be a good idea to draft a query first, just because it puts your whole story into a neat little nutshell, and would be a great base to work from!

I guess I sort of do that - I write a one or two paragraph plot synopsis of what I see happening in the story before I ever start writing. Maybe that will help with with queries?

Anyways, I think it's great that you like writing queries. :-)

December said...

I'm not sure, since I'm working on my first one.
But I think the pressure of getting it RIGHT is hightened.
And we're all afraid of failure, so its all this pressure, on one little hooky sentence or paragraph, that will make or break our career...

Oh geez - now I'm freaking myself out. LOL!

Katie said...

Oh Elana, you are brilliant! I am DYING (hee hee) to read this book of yours!

beth said...

Ummm...I actually like writing them, too.

Although, when I share them with people and they nitpick and needle and rip it apart, I like them less!

Rebecca Knight said...

I get nervous about the query because I tend to be too brief. I think trying to flesh it out a little without being overly wordy is what sets my neck hairs on end.

Plus, when I'm not amazing at something the first time around, I tend to get cranky ;). LOL!

I'm learning to love query-writing more as I improve. I think it's directly proportional.

Mandy said...

You are a sick, sick woman! JK ;)

I hate writing queries. There's just too much pressure. I feel like every word has my future riding on it and I'm playing a guessing game trying to figure out exactly how I'm going to hook an agent into reading more.

Also--my short game sucks. I have a really hard time cramming an entire novel into a few paragraphs which is why I hate writing the synopsis too! Can anyone say book report?

Davin Malasarn said...

I try not to stress over query letters, but the honest truth is that I do have a very hard time writing them. My problem is that I can usually come up with two or three different ways to write them, and then I get into the useless circle of trying to predict which version an agent is going to like more. In the end, I doubt it makes a difference, and I'm probably fretting over nothing. But, it's scary to feel like you have one page to convince and agent that they are interested in your book.

Paul West said...

Elana, I think you're weird, in a good sort of way, LOL.

As for your Dying to Live query, for a first stab at it, it sounds great. I envy you're ability to do that even before you start writing the book.'

Actually, however, I've heard from a few sources that writing the pitch paragraph and one or two paragraph synopsis is a good way to begin the novel.

I think my main problem with writing a query letter isn't the sending it out, but getting the words right to reflect what the novel is all about -- after the fact. I wrote my first novel with no idea of where it was going until I got there. That's a pretty bad way to go, IMO, now that I look back on it. Eventually, I've been able to focus on it and get the essence down in one short sentence, but it's taken me literally years.

I'm working my second novel differently. I have the pitch already written and the book is going much more smoothly.

Jody Hedlund said...

I think we stress because we want them to be perfect to hook the attention of an editor or agent. It's kind of like our job interview for the slot that everyone is fighting for. The more professional and compelling the query, the better chances you have of getting that "job."

Lisa and Laura said...

We're query whores, plain and simple. I look back on the days of querying agents with nostalgia now that we're in the hell that is submissions.

There is no rush like sending out a fresh batch of queries and obsessively refreshing your e-mail for responses.

Ok, now I sound like a junkie...

WindyA said...

I think I worry more about the query letter simply because it is the "first impression" and in almost all cases, you can't change that first impression. So working to make the query letter perfect is even worse than the manuscript itself.

No worries on lunch. We'll reschedule. :)

Scott said...

I'm with Tess! Kidding. Sort of!

As you well know from reading my attempt at a query . . . I kind of stumble around in the forest looking for the trail of crumbs leadiing back to the cozy cottage. Okay, it's not that bad. I seriously have trouble trying to condense the main gist of the story into a one page letter in a way that's going to grab an agent's attention. I'm working through these problems . . . with a little help from a certain someone named 'Agent' Elana!


Michelle McLean said...

I like writing's editing them that I hate :D I always think they are awesome until my crit buddies get a hold of them and I realize how much they suck. Then comes the trying to polish and perfect it, the stress of not knowing if your rejections are coming because the letter isn't good enough or if it's your idea...or just you ;-D

Awesome query btw. I can't wait to read this book!

Wiggy said...

I hate it because it feels like a school assignment and I don't know what to say. I know my book so well, it is hard to cut it down to size and I always get a headache.

Great post. I didn't want to read it, but that first bit on facebook dragged me in! You are awesome.

Anonymous said...

Query Letters suck more than anything has ever sucked before...

On a side note, bet you could make killer cash writing them for people. (If you do it, I want a percentage for contributing the idea 2% will do.)

Icy Roses said...

I don't think query letters are that bad. Granted, I haven't written one yet, but I think it could be fun. I mean, it resembles an inside flap. Those are cool.

It's the synopses that scare me.

Danyelle said...

I won't hate you because you like to write query letters--I'll hate you because you're so awesome at it! And you haven't even written the book yet!

*becomes so green, she becomes a permanent fixture in Oz*


Seriously, Elana, you rock!

I don't enjoy writing query letters as much as writing because it's hard for me to write short. Not to mention it's me writing the query letter. I usually let my characters write the story.

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