Publishing

Query letters and first chapters

Been busy busy again, and I’m ashamed to say I’ve missed two writing days. Wednesday I completed my revising goal, but then didn’t have time for a blog post. Yesterday no time for anything and today, no time for writing, but now I’m squeezing in a post that I’ve been wanting to write.

First, thanks to Shane and Jamie who’ve added story starter ideas for our community story. There’s plenty of time to still add an idea. I haven’t even done one myself yet (busy busy busy).

Now, I noticed two interesting web pieces the other day. First, Firebrand Literary is having a Query Holiday between Dec. 15 and Jan. 15 for all those writers who hate writing query letters (me included). During that time, Firebrand is accepting first chapters without a query. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it. But wait, second, agent Nathan Bransford talked about how query letters he is receiving now are of a better quality and how that helps him in his job.

Although I would love to see a world where I don’t have to let a query letter represent my writing, agents — and I’m assuming editors too — still find them useful. But it is refreshing to see an agency try getting submissions without them, looking solely at first chapters. I’d be interested to see how the experiment goes and I hope they post something about it.

Interestingly, in more than one seminar I’ve been too, editors have said that even though they want to receive a query letter, they don’t read it until AFTER they’ve read the submitted material. They go straight to the material and if they like it, they look at the query to get more details on the writer.

I love it if queries were for that purpose only, to just offer the details of the writer. Then the query doesn’t have to represent the tone of my novel, etc., etc., like queries are supposed to. Instead, they’re more like a press release, straight facts: name, experience, hobbies, favorite foods (kidding). So, it’s an addition to my writing sample, instead of my writing sample being an addition to my query, which is how I think of it now.

Of course, I haven’t yet read all of Nathan Bransford’s posts about how to write a brilliant query letter, and I plan to once my revision is done and I’m ready to start querying. (He says the quality of his query letters have improved drastically since he and others have posted info on how to write a good query.) Maybe after that I’ll be better at writing queries, because when I’ve done them in the past, I feel like I’m dragging nails on a chalk board. I’ve seen it written in many places that writing a query is a different skill than writing a novel or anything else, and it’s true, it really is. So, as writers, we have to master two writing skills to succeed. And I thought I was busy…

How do you feel about queries? And what do you think about Firebrand’s Query Holiday? Do you think it’s a good idea or no?

Write On!

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