Monday, February 17, 2014

Query Trenches

Alright folks, I'm headed back into the Query Trenches. This time, I'm taking you with me. Some of you may be thinking, what the heck is a query trench? And you're about to find out, probably more than you want to.

A query is a writer's project pitch for their completed manuscript. It is THE most important letter you will write during your writing career. Therefore it has to be PERFECT (or nearly).

The ideal in this world of writing is to land a literary agent who would like to offer representation. This is where the query comes in. A writer can spend hours upon hours polishing their query, which should be no more than a page, and more specifically, the blurb about your story no more than 250 words. Have you ever tried to write a 99,000 word novel and then condense the most important parts to 250 words? It's not easy.

There are many other considerations when writing a query. It should reflect your writing style, your voice, and have absolutely no grammatical mistakes or spelling errors. (Remember this is your only shot at getting an agent to notice your book. Do you want to give them a bad impression of your writing? Typically if agents see mistakes in a query, they assume they will see the same types of mistakes in your writing.) It should be interesting, show character development and the major conflict, and most importantly, it needs to pique the agent's interest. All in less than a page.

So, why do writers do this? Why search out for a literary agent when there are other publishing options available nowadays? I think every writer dreams of "making it big". We spend months or years writing a novel and just as long revising it. Our hope is to find an agent who believes in our story as much as we do. One who will offer representation, pitch the project to one of THE BIG SIX publishing houses, and Voila! A million dollar contract! (Okay, so maybe that's dreaming a little big....)  :)

But the point is, the THE BIG SIX are put on a pedestal, idolized by writers, engraved in gold. And as I'm about to enter these "query trenches" again, I wonder if it's worth it?  I'm about to "stalk" agents--I'll research their likes and dislikes in a query and their preferred query format. I'll find out the types of books they represent and books they like to read. I'll read their bios and search out their blog, twitter, or Facebook pages. It's a process, and one that has proven unfruitful thus far.

I took a few months off from writing queries. I needed a break. And now, I'm ready to do it again. I have a manuscript ready and waiting, screaming at me for not doing anything with it other than the occasional hacking at the story, removing characters, and rewriting scenes. The longer this manuscript is in my possession, the more changes I make. Pretty soon it will be a shell of the original. (Which is probably a good thing!)

So, wish me luck! I'm heading into those trenches and praying I come out unscathed.

All of you writers out there, I want to hear from you...Did you brave the query trenches? In the end, what did you decide--try for an agent, send to small publisher, or self-publish? I'd love to hear from you!!


  1. Just stopping over to welcome you to my Gratitude hop! I'm excited you've signed up. Best of luck for the rest of the month.

    As far as your questions, *sighs* my story is a long one. At least it feels like that to me. Briefly - I subbed to agents for approximately a year and a half. Contemplated self-pubbing, but felt it just wasn't for me yet. So, I subbed to smaller pubs on my own. Voila! I got seven offers of publication for my YA novel. On the urging of other pubbed/agented author friends, I contacted a few agents, telling them about my offers. Within two hours, one of the agents contacted me. We set up a time to chat via phone. She offered me representation and I accepted. She's a very successful veteran in the industry, so I am totally blessed. This all happened about a year ago. I went on sub with four of the big six this past summer. Still waiting ... We've also subbed two of my picture books, and I'm currently cleaning up my MG novel, which we're excited to start subbing. Phew... told you it was long. LOL

    1. Thank you so much!! This is TOTALLY what I needed to hear! I have been contemplating small pubs for a while now. Maybe this is the route I should go...Congrats on getting an agent and good luck with those submissions! Can't wait to hear how it all turns out!! Thanks so much for sharing! :)

  2. I just thought of something. I created a Facebook support group for writers. If you'd like I can add you. Just email me or friend me on Facebook under 'Sheri Larsen' and then I can add you.

    1. Awesome! I'd love to join! I need all the support I can get! :)

  3. Best of luck! I hate querying, and I'm glad it's you, not me--but if you need some cheese or a cheerleader, I'm totally here. =)

    1. Thanks Crystal!! I appreciate that! I'll definitely stop by for my weekly dose of cheese! :)


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