Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Querying Querying

It's time to dust off the old query-writing hat. It's been a while since I donned it. About a decade. And times have changed. Query expectations have changed. Heck, even submission systems have changed. Email queries are the norm for a lot of agencies now? Cool. And bad at the same time. How easy is it for an agency screener to hit the delete key?

So, I have gone over mine a zillion times. It's starting to come together. It has a bit of the flavor of the tone I use in my novel; the voice of the query seems to be a mirror of the book. There's a hint of the conflict, a hook at the beginning, a bit about the character's growth.

Today I ran across this great post by Natalie Whipple. She has a fantastic writing blog. Highly recommend. Here's a link to her post called, "Don't Knock the Query."

She's right. I find myself hating the query. Why can't the agent or the publisher just take the time to read my whole novel and make a judgment? Come on! We writers went to all the trouble to pen these tomes--doesn't the world owe it to us to at least read the things?

Ha. Well, ha. Isn't that a bit egotistical? I regularly put down books that don't catch my interest with a back cover blurb or a good first page. I'm not a last page peeker (I know some people are, and I guess that's your right, even though it's kind of wrong, unwrapping the presents on Christmas Eve and then rewrapping them and acting surprised on Christmas morning.) A lot of books simply don't appeal.

So, in a way, it's kind of merciful that agents only ask for a query initially. How much forestry would be wasted (and I do mean wasted, as agencies just don't recycle. Sorry. That's what I'm told. Not that I'm a big recycler myself. Guilty! Guilty as charged!) if we all just printed out every single word of our 90,000 word novels and sent them off in piddly little mail trucks to the upper West Side of Manhattan? Gasoline alone...think of it. $3.35 a gallon around here this morning, baby.

It preserves resources and time to simply send the query. Either just a single page and a SASE goes, or else a blip of electricity, into their inboxes. I think we can trust these people to know if the concept appeals to them or not after a few minutes, as much as we trust ourselves to know whether a novel in the library or bookstore will *not* be our cup of tea at first glance.

So, with that, I'm going to keep honing the query, make it match the story as well as possible and so it will give my super duper chosen agent a chance to decide based on what's really there. That's the goal, folks. Not to write the best query every, in particular, but the best query for your book. It's gotta match.

Speaking of things needing to match, there's got to be a matching candy somewhere. Probably my favorite way to have a matching candy would be to have two of the same candy. Or three. Just a good candy in multiples.

However, one matchy-matchy treat stands out: the Twin Pop. Sweet, cool, fruity (unless you get a root beer flavored pop) and oh-so-refreshing. I have about 15 of them in my freezers right now. The red kind, which I assume is cherry, isn't quite as good as the blue. Who knows what flavor blue is. Does it really matter? Some days -- days when I don't care if I have what looks like a purple tattoo around the inner level of my lips -- grape is the only flavor that satisfies.

Luckily I live in a warm climate, and be it mid-February or not, a twin pop is almost always in order. One caveat: banana. Not a fave. Luckily, it is the favorite of two of my children, so no pops live in vain! Long live the twin pop! Ooh, once I saw a "How it's Made" episode that showed the life cycle of the Twin Pop. Very interesting. I bet you could youtube that if you really wanted to know. I need to get back to my query, or I'd dig around and post a link for y'all.

Happy querying and popping!


  1. What the?! NOT a fan of banana? Why don't you just say, "I hate fat babies" or something equally as ridiculous. I don't even know if I know you anymore, Jen. (ps~good luck with your query)

  2. Not a fan. BUT...hey. You can have all mine. I'll take the kind you don't like. Thanks for the query luck-wish. Neeeeeeed it! But I went to a great How-To class this weekend. Really, Lis. You shoulda come down!


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