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  1. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    Query Shark. Highly recommended.

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by mrieder79, Jul 3, 2016.

    This is a blog written by a literary agent. She gives fantastic advice for improving your query and writing in general. There is a treasure trove of information here that has improved by query and my writing considerably. Thanks to @Steerpike for recommending it to me.

    here's the link:

    http://queryshark.blogspot.com/
     
    Lifeline likes this.
  2. RVS

    RVS New Member

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    Wow. I'll definetely use this! Thanks for the link
     
  3. Tusitala

    Tusitala Member

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    Query Shark is fantastic. I'd highly recommend reading the archives before starting to write your query letter--all the tips and tricks you'll pick up will make the whole process go smoother.
     
  4. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    Agreed. So far I have spent about 2-3 months reading the archives and the information I have gleaned is well worth the time invested.
     
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  5. Infel

    Infel Contributing Member

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    I spent two or three weeks browsing over the archives and then another month off and on my query letter. I can't think of anything that's helped more than that blog. An absolute must for querrying authors.
     
  6. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree that there's good insight, but do remember that this is only one agent and her own preferences. Some of them are so common-sense they must be widely shared, but others can be a bit idiosyncratic...
     
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  7. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    All it really taught me was that the biggest factor in a successful query (assuming it's competently written) is luck: that it lands in the right inbox at the right time. I find the same in any query archive. I really do think we (including me) obsess far too much about getting a perfect query when no such thing exists.

    A good query will typically get a 10% request rate. That means for every agent who thinks it's good, nine don't think it's good enough to even look at a partial. And those queries are the creme de la creme of queries... For every "query win" of Janet Reid's, plenty of other agents are going to send a form reject.

    It's very subjective. Very.
     
  8. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I had a long look at this archive, and I was impressed by the quality and depth of the critiques. Janet Reid is excellent at telling us WHY she likes or doesn't like part of the query letter on offer, and she always gives sensible advice on how to improve it.

    It doesn't really matter if Janet Reid's preferences are the same as every other agent's. Of course landing an agent is a combination of luck and of approaching the 'right' agent. But her blog really digs into how some query letters don't work, and how to fix that.

    She also doesn't seem particularly prejudiced either for or against any genre of writing, which I found impressive. Any blog that cites Charles Dickens, George RR Martin AND Elmore Leonard as examples of 'good' query writers shows a willingness to accept that there are many different styles of writing out there, and they are all publishable if done well.

    She made one interesting observation in one of the recent critiques that perked me up considerably. She thinks longer novels are making a comeback, and that a too-low word count in a novel query can be off-putting, depending on genre. She seems to recognise that it does take an accumulation of words to develop a novel, and that cutting back too far can be a mistake.

    I didn't read all the submissions (life is short) but I read a lot of them, and I must say I agreed with her observations. She provides an excellent example of how to do a pragmatic critique as well. She is brutally honest, but never unpleasant or dismissive. She always offers constructive criticism. What's amazing is that she does these critiques for free, apparently.

    If you're planning to start the query process, you could do a lot worse than read through this blog. It's a very useful resource. Thanks to @Steerpike and @mrieder79 for bringing it to my attention. Even though I don't plan to query, the same principles can be applied to writing a good back-cover blurb for self-publishing. I've bookmarked the site.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2016
  9. Scot

    Scot Contributing Member

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    What a fantastic site. Can we have it in Resources?
     
  10. Maggieway

    Maggieway New Member

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    Excellent, I shall be bookmarking this site for sure!
     

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