Writing A Query Is As Much Fun As Dueling Sharks

Writing a query can give a writer a big honking case of self-doubt. I had to write one the other day for my current manuscript.  Working on it almost drove me to tears.

The main part of a query is like the blurb you find on the back cover of a book. It’s a brief overview of the premise that serves to entice the reader into buying the book. In a query, you’re trying to entice a publisher or agent into reading the entire manuscript.

Here’s the thing–I used to write blurbs. I worked at a film company and wrote blurbs for their repertory movie theater schedule. Not only did I not find it difficult, I loved doing it!

I also worked for a different film company for about a year as a freelance reader. A reader has to create a logline (state the premise in 25 words or less), write a synopsis and give an opinion as to whether the company should or shouldn’t consider buying the script or film rights to a book. I rarely read screenplays. I mostly read books about to be published.

I used to boil the premise of other people’s books down to 25 words or less ALL THE TIME.  For a query you can use as many that will fit on one sheet of paper. I really struggled with this latest one, first writing what was more a synopsis than a blurb. I had to cut it almost in half.

The other difficulty is conveying voice in a query. I could do that in a logline for someone else’s work, no problem. When it was my story, it was much more difficult.

Starting my next project doesn’t seem that daunting. Having to eventually write a query for it–very daunting.

After several false starts, I pretended I was writing a blurb for someone else’s story. That seemed to make it easier.

My beta-readers assured me the query I eventually sent out was good. We’ll see if they’re right.

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