Monday, November 19, 2012

Free Expressions Takeaway Part IV: Quintessential Queries

As every serious writer knows, the road to publication begins with crafting a memorable query. This fundamental tool of the writing trade must have muscle: its job is to capture an agent's or editor's interest, give a quick overview of your work, plus reflect your book's tone and your personality. 

And of course, all of this is accomplished in 300 well-crafted words or less. 

Tracey and Josh Adams of Adams Literary taught our class on creating quintessential queries. Their agency receives over 10,000 queries a year.  Agent Quinlan Lee reads them super fast and red flags the ones their agency might have interest in. Your objective, as a writer is to get that red flag!

The Quintessential Couple
Tracey and Josh Adams

"The goal of a query is to get your work noticed," Josh said. "It's just like a bookstore; you want a reader to pick your book off the shelf."

How can a writer accomplish this? According to Josh, you must:
  1. Find your “hook.” 
  2. Keep it short. Get to the heart of your book quickly.
  3. Make it relevant. Only give important information that the agent will care about. 
  4. Reflect your personality. Be yourself.  Put yourself out there (but not in embarrassing way!) 
  5. Send your best work, but keep in mind that it is "ready to submit" rather than "done."
As a gift to my readers, Tracey and Josh have generously shared their Do's and Don'ts of Queries

During the week each participant in this Free Expressions seminar received critique time with Lorin Oberweger, Brenda Windberg as well as consultation time with Emma Dryden and Nancy Conescu.
I used my time with Emma to review my query. I was happy to hear that my beginning, in which I reminded the editor of her interest in my manuscript; and my ending, where I listed my relevant writing experiences, were both solid.

But the middle--in which I gave a synopsis of my book--needed work. Within 15 minutes Emma and I had brainstormed a paragraph that not only concisely describes my book, but in the process, I also learned more about my characters and plot. 

What's the moral of this story? Not only is writing a quintessential query your foot into an agent's door (or in-box), but writing it before you finish your manuscript may help you define your book and push forward.



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Next week will be my final blog post in this series. Advice and tricks on revision will be brought to you by the YA Muses

If you missed the other blogs in this series, here they are:
Free Expressions Takeaway Part I- Voice and Deep Point of View
Free Expressions Takeaway Part II- Deep Scene
Free Expressions Takeaway Part III- World Building

9 comments:

Janelle said...

Carol, Thanks for sharing this post. Great tips on Queries!

Also, is there a way to click on the "Dos and Don'ts" without being a member of the site where they're uploaded? I'd love to read those but the site appears to be asking for a user name password.

Janelle said...

Hi Carol, thanks for posting these tips on query letters! It's sounds like this was a very helpful event!

Do you know if there's a way to read the "Dos and Don'ts" without being a member of the site where they are posted? When I clicked on that link it asked for a password and user name. But I'd love to read those!

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Carol,

I am so glad you were able to get help on strengthening the middle of your query letter! Congratulations on having a great beginning and end. Thanks for sharing what the Adams Literary Agency advised.

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Janelle and Joan. APpreciate you stopping by and visiting my blog!

Clara Gillow Clark said...

Terrific post! Thanks for the the list. I'm going to use this with my students.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Clara! Glad you'll pass it along.

Linda A. said...

Enjoyed this and I'm so glad this series is available to us. Thanks for all you offer to strengthen our writing skills. Quality posts!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, LInda. Glad you have enjoyed this series!

Jean said...

Thanks, Carol. This has been an informative series.

So much to learn...

Jean