Tuesday, June 29, 2010

This Week in Writing: How many times can I write one query?

by KATE FALL on SEPTEMBER 19, 2009


This week at MigWriters, we’ve been talking a lot about query letters. There’s something about the autumn air that makes one want to get down to business and sell some writing, am I right?

Last Saturday, I sent out a query for my novel SEVENTH GRADE HEX QUEEN. Did I labor over that succinct, one-page query letter? Oh, boy, did I.

  • First, I wrote out a one-sentence summary of my story.
  • Second, I expanded the summary to three sentences and called that Pitch 1.
  • Third, I wrote a different Pitch 2 that I felt conveyed my main character’s voice better.
  • Then I gave MigWriters both queries and let them have at ‘em.
  • Next, I used their comments to take the best of both queries to craft my pitch.
  • Then I bid on a query letter critique from published author Saundra Mitchell on Cynthea Liu’s Take the Dare Auction.
  • I reviewed Saundra’s critique and ran it by my Rochester area crit partners.
  • I used all of those comments to edit the query yet again and set it aside for a couple of weeks.
  • Finally, right before I sent it out last week, I edited it one last time.

All that for three paragraphs! By far, most of the work went into the one-paragraph story hook. In that paragraph, I wanted to convey voice, plot tension, humor … basically everything short a promise to wash your car if you buy my book.

I really hope I didn’t ruin that query with my last edit. Maybe I should look at it again– NO KATE, DON’T. Walk away from it slowly. Deep breath. Yay, isn’t querying fun and not obsessive at all??

How many times do you rewrite your query letters?

– Kate

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Christina 09.21.09 at 4:04 am

Yes, it is painful, the query process! Good luck!

Robin 09.21.09 at 8:58 am

I never feel like my query is perfect. I can only go with as “good as I can make it” Scary, isn’t it? But I think you really covered all the bases – good luck!

Karen Amanda Hooper 09.21.09 at 9:00 am

I feel your pain. I’ve written mine 18 different ways. And I’m still not sure any of them really do my story justice.

Kate Fall 09.21.09 at 10:41 am

Thanks! Because misery loves company. :) But really, it’s good to know I’m not alone.

Debbie, the picture you added is too adorable!

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