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A Query About Query Letters: How Do I Make Mine Stand Out?

May 20, 2014

queryI’ve signed up for a How To Get Published workshop and it suggests bringing a copy of my ‘query letter’. I presume so we can critique it and make it better.

I didn’t have a query letter as of yet…so I just sat down and wrote one.

There are a gazillion examples on the internet. (Go on, google it).

It’s a form letter, more or less: Insert word count here. Insert summary here. Add your bio and contact details. DONE!

Sigh. If only it were as simple as that.

Like with any cover letter, you want to inject a little bit of PIZZAZ and INDIVIDUALITY into it.

Think about submitting a cover letter for a job. They are so full of ‘acceptable’ words/phrases (“I’m an organized, responsible, experienced, team player etc. “) that by the time you reach Yours Sincerely, your cover letter looks like every other cover letter written since the dawn of time. BORING.

Same problem with a query letter.

Of course, with a query letter, at least I can say that my plot is different.

It is, isn’t it? But now that I think about it, the-husband-presumed-dead-but-might-be-alive schtick, which is my main plot point, has been done before. Ho Hum.

Wait, I want to write, there’s so much more to my novel then that!

My novel has:

  • spies
  • gangsters
  • a masquerade ball
  • a mysterious diary
  • drinking binges
  • lots of good Regency food
  • women fainting
  • men crying
  • extra marital affairs
  • a rabble rouser

And not one, not two, not three BUT FOUR suitors for my heroine to choose from!

Right.

I can’t go into all that.

I’ve got to fit this into one page. Succinctly.

I’ve got to take a 115 000 word novel (yes, I am currenlty editing to reduce that word count) and condense it into a few lines.

I have to somehow make that one paragraph compelling, without resorting to my drinking binges! gangsters!  Etc. bells and whistles.

I almost think writing the novel was easier. *note the use of the word ‘almost’*

PS In the comic above, when I say ‘Mr. Darcy look alike’ I really mean a Colin Firth As Mr. Darcy look a like.

PPS. Dear writers, if you’ve gone down the query letter road, how did you make your query letter stand out?

PPPS Perhaps this site can help me.

PPPPS Most literary agencies make it very clear on their submission pages…do NOT hand deliver anything to them. (I presume that applies even to Colin Firth look a likes!) So I guess I’ll have to send him somewhere else. Where should I send him, dear reader? Hmmm?

One comment

  1. Hehe. I’ll suggest you read Dean Wesley Smith on query letters.

    Wayne



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