Queries: Oh the Horror! A Necessary Evil #atozchallenge #blogging #writing

I can only think of one author I know who literally LOVES queries. The rest of us, or at least a large majority of the rest of us, hate them, fear them, and avoid them at all costs. I am one of those writers.

Don’t get me wrong. I completely understand the importance and need for them, but that doesn’t make them any easier to write. What to put in, what to leave out… will it hook? So many things to consider and so many schools of thought with respect to the best ways to approach them.

In my time subbing stories, I have found that simple and to the point seems to work the best.

For giggles, I thought I would put up the queries I have sent that have earned me either a partial request or an acceptance from a publisher or agent. Maybe by putting them all on one place, a pattern will emerge to show what works vs what doesn’t.

Okay, I admit it… this is a complete experiment, but maybe it will be entertaining 😛

This is the original query letter I penned for CALL OF THE SEA – It was sent to a literary agent I wanted to work with (still do). She request the first 30 pages from the MS, but later rejected the MS. At the time, it looked much different than the final version, and I can honestly say I understand why it was rejected. (Rule #1: AGENTS WANT SOMETHING THEY CAN SELL NOT SOMETHING THEY CAN EDIT AND THEN SELL)

Dear AGENT:

There’s no denying the call of the sea.

Thanks to the selkie blood coursing through his veins, young Daniel O’Rourke is tied to the ocean–whether he likes it or not. In an effort to earn a living while staying close to the coast, Daniel takes a job aboard The Surf Runner as their cabin boy.

When his beloved captain and mentor is murdered by pirates, Daniel must work with the captain’s headstrong daughter to hunt down the killer.

That is, if she’ll let him anywhere near her.

 THE CALL OF THE SEA is a historical fantasy romance complete at 78,000 words.

This novel is currently a finalist in the adult category of Miss Snark’s Baker’s Dozen Agent Auction and up for bid by the sixteen participating agents on Tuesday.

My short stories have been published in various anthologies and collections by Pill Hill Press, Wicked East Press and DFE Quarterly (erotica).

When I read this over again, I find it hard to believe three is enough here to bait a hook with, but it did earn a partial request as I mentioned, as well as full requests from my publisher and another small publisher I had queried at the time I was shopping the story.

The below query was for a short story (written under a pen name) — which was rejected eventually, but with the reasoning that it didn’t have a HEA/HFA ending, which this particular publisher requires from their erotic titles. They went on to add that if I made changes to the plot to make it that sort of ending, they would be interested publishing it.

As you can see, a query for a short is a bit different from a novel query (but not a whole lot).

Let me start by congratulating you on your upcoming launch. I’ve been following you on Twitter and Facebook for a little bit now, and it looks like you have some fantastic things happening at [name withheld] Publishing. I am submitting my speculative fiction erotica short, Ace in the Hole for consideration by [name withheld]‘s (BLANK) imprint. The story is complete at 6,000 words.
Twenty year old, Marley Drake is smokin’ hot and she knows it. In search of her next Sugar Daddy, Marley hits a trendy downtown bar with her best friend, Amy. What she finds may just be the jackpot–if she can get past the fact that he’s at least three times her age and a bit creepy. She realizes Professor VonHessen is much more than he appears when he introduces her to his robotics masterpiece, ACE; an anatomically correct android built for sex.
My short stories have been published in anthologies by Pill Hill Press (Sinisterotica – 2011 and Daily Flash: 366 Days of Flash Fiction – 2011) and Wicked East Press (Cutlass and Musket: Tales of Piratical Skullduggery – 2011).
Thank you for your time.
 I would have more queries for you, but flash fiction pieces don’t generally require them, and I haven’t completed my next novel yet, so haven’t written a query for that.
So, did we learn anything from the examples — besides that I am pretty terrible at writing the darn things? Do you have tips or hints for others who are in the process of writing a query?  Feel free to share below 😛
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About Rebecca Hart

Im a single parent of three and a published author of romance in all sorts of sub-genres. A full time IT geek, Managing Editor of Roane Publishing, cover artist and a reformed gaming addict -- I live to write fantasy peppered with a dash of romantic nonsense :P Addicted to all things pirates, penguins, Johnny Depp and rum. Follow me on Twitter: @Rebelhart69

Posted on April 19, 2012, in A to Z Blogging Challenge 2012, Blogging, General and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I wrote about QL today too. (There will probably be a lot of those today, thanks to the elusive Q!) Yuck. Query letters. Horrible, vile things. I suck at them and hate them and its a freaking miracle that a very kind-hearted editor saw potential in me (despite my terrible QL) and signed me.
    Honestly, your QL’s seem fine to me. But, like I said, I suck….
    Cool post tho. I love commiserating with other writers. 🙂

  2. Hmm, I wonder which author loves writing queries. Her name isn’t Ruth by any chance? tehe.

  3. Queries are vile but necessary things. I totally get the time and volume management aspects of them. However, it saddens me how sometimes good books get passed over for lack of a good query and good queries can earn a mediocre book a second look which is rather confusing for the writer. They are different types of writing skills, not mutually exclusive, but highly specialized in their own ways.

  4. Hi, seems like a favorite “Q” word among authors is Query Letter. Never wrote one,, but I might some day. 🙂 Best regards to you, my friend. Ruby aka Grammy

  5. I talked about queries on my A to Z post too. It’s funny such a seemingly simple task can be so tough.

    Patricia

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