Query Letters–Shannon Style (Part Four: The Rest–and a giveaway!)

January 25th, 2011 | Blog Uncategorized

YAY–the last post on query letters, are you as excited as I am??????? 
(Um…I doubt it. These posts have been HARD to write!)

In case you missed it, I've covered Query Letter Format, Writing the Hook, and Writing the Body of the Query letter. And today, we'll be covering, “the rest.”

Now, you might be wondering: um…what's left? Surprisingly–a LOT.



I KNOW researching agents is boring and complicated and time consuming. But you HAVE to do it.

Why? Respect for agent's time, for one thing. Saves yourself a lot of unnecessary heartache and rejection for another. But mainly: the agent-client relationship is an important and complicated part of your career. You need to find someone who not only loves your project, but someone you can really work with, and in order to do that you need to know as much about the agent as possible. Plus, a lot of agencies only want you to query one agent at their office (I know my agency is particularly big on that) so how else are you supposed to decide who you should send your query to?

You have to do your research. And two of the best resources I've found are:


It's also well worth the time to do a good, old-fashioned Google search. Check the agent's website. Their blog, if they have one. Their Facebook or Twitter feed. Any online interviews they've given. I know it can feel stalkerish, but they wouldn't put it out there if they didn't want you to connect with them. And it's amazing how much you can learn.

I'm also a HUGE proponent of Writer's Conferences. I know they're expensive, so they might not be an option for you. But if you can, they are definitely an investment worth making. And if you can't afford a conference–not to sound like shameless self promotion here–but the WriteOnCon website is quickly becoming an incredible resource:

Replays of all of our live panels/chats can be found HERE
And an archive of the entire 2010 Conference can be found HERE

And we add more to it every month.

Another bonus to doing all this research? It gives you something you can put in your query to personalize it for the agent. Something to let them know you queried them because you're really interested in working with them and think you would be a good fit for each other. Not because you started at “A” and are working your way through “Z” or because they're a mega superstar and the only agent you've heard of.  Remember, this is your career. Put the time in and do it right.

Which brings me to my next point: getting help with your query.

I would have been lost without the Query Workshop I took–LOST I tell you!

I'm sure there are lots of them out there, but the one I swear by is run by the lovely and talented C.J. Redwine. Trust me on this when I say it was–hands down–the best $55 I've ever spent. I believe in it so much, it has a blurb from me on the site. It's a 2 week course and seriously, it's amazing. Go THERE. Check it out. And if you can, take the class. You will not regret it.

(Incidentally, CJ also offers a Synopsis Workshop, and a Plotting Workshop. Both are awesome and well worth the money.)

For those who can't afford an online workshop, there are some wonderful online query resources, like KT Literary's “Ask Daphne” About my Query FeatureQuery Shark, and Elana Johnson's From The Query To The Call ebook (now free!). But one of my absolute favorites is the Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment, run by my friend Matthew Rush.

Not only does he post and analyze a ton of Successful Queries (and yes Matt, I do realize I owe you mine. Someday!) He also humbly shares his own Querying Mistakes so everyone can learn from them, and has a regular Query Critique Feature, where real queries get posted and analyzed to make them better. If you're not following his blog, you need to be.

Which brings me to the giveaway part of this post. I mentioned last week how important it is to have your query letters critiqued–by friends, critique partners, beta readers, whatever. The more eyes on it, the better. And since I'm all about paying it forward (and my own, lightning fast, ridiculously easy querying process leaves me A LOT to pay forward) I wanted to end this series on queries with a giveaway. 
So in that vein, I've decided to give away 2 personal, query letter critiques to 2 commenters on today's post!!!!! 
BUT–as I've said a million times throughout this series–I'm hardly an expert at this. So fortunately for us, my good friend Matt from the QQQE decided to back me up. Which means the lucky winners will get not one, but TWO sets of eyes on their query. Mine and Matt's. Double feedback. Double advice. Sweet deal, right? Yeah…I thought so too.
To enter is simple: make sure you follow my blog AND Matt's blog and leave a comment on this post by 11:59 pm PST on Friday, January 28th. Winners will be announced on Saturday, January 29th. Oh, and you might want to make sure you leave me some way to contact you if you win, so I can let you know how to send in your query. Okay?
Oh, and make sure you stay tuned next week, when I start a new Shannon Style series on my blog. This time I'll be tackling REVISION. It's…going to be interesting. 🙂

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