Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Adventures in Query Land

Even though my book is nowhere near finished, sometimes I can't help it when my mind wanders into unknown territories like Query Land.  During the final stages of draft one, I have also been trying to build a measly platform by securing some freelance work.  And you know what freelancing means: a trip to Query Land!  Without a clear understanding of solid query-writing, the chances of being published for any freelance gig are about as good as winning the Powerball.  The odds don't seem to deter anyone from buying into the madness, though, do they?  So how do we make our queries stand out among the many un-researched, unedited, and otherwise unworthy ones out there?

We do it right!

Keep in mind, I am no expert.  I have yet to make my impression on the literary world.  But I am learning as I go and have picked up a few tips along the way.  I'm going to start a series this week about my "Adventures in Query Land," where I will share tips on query-writing that I have learned and/or employed on my own journey. 

Another thing to keep in mind: all agents, editors, and publishers are looking for different things.  They all have different preferences on what they want to see and how they want to see it presented.  If you are querying someone that has specific guidelines on what they are looking for, then for goodness sake, follow those guidelines.  I've heard quite a few times about editors and agents being flat out annoyed by the fact that they take the time to help writers out by posting specific guidelines, only to have them completely ignored when a writer feels their query/manuscript is simply above all that.  They don't need to follow those guidelines because they are such an exemplary writer that they will just blow that editor's or agent's mind.

If you are in this frame of mind right now as you write your stellar query that does not abide by certain guidelines, please stop.  You are making the rest of us look bad.  You're like the grown man that cuts in line when highway 5 is under construction and down to one lane because you think you're just better than everyone else and your business is far more important than ours.  We're all trying to navigate through the heinous path to getting that publishing deal.  But those orange signs that tell you how to go about it are there for a reason.  So no cutsies, jerkface.  Just get in line with the rest of us.

Ok, rant over.  The whole point of examining what makes a query good or interesting is to sort of step into the shoes of the agent or editor you are sending it to.  They probably read twenty other queries before they got to yours, and they probably have thirty more to get through by the end of the day.  If you don't take the time to be professional, but also make yours grab their interest and keep it until the end, you will disappear into the pile with the rest.

So stay tuned this week for more Adventures in Query Land.