Query Letter Crazy

I’m now a firm believer that writing query letters will make you crazy.  A query letter is basically a cover letter for your story, only instead of applying for a job, you’re applying to have someone read your book and represent it.  Most literary agencies will let you add a sample of your writing, usually 10 pages or so, but sometimes the query letter is the only thing an agent uses to determine whether they want you to send them anything at all.  That’s why it’s so nerve wracking trying to write one.  Basically, agents are the gatekeepers for traditional publishing.

I’ve found a great website that details best practices for writing queries, and there’s even a forum where authors post the queries that landed them their agent.  Not to mention they have a database of agents that you can search through.  Pretty much a one-stop-shop.  It’s called AgentQuery.com if you’re interested.

I’m currently working on a query letter for my Saving George’s Light middle grade novel.  Just like with writing book descriptions, the hardest part is finding the balance between including too much information, and not enough.  Being the author I already know the story, so I have a tendency of thinking: hey, I don’t need to mention that because I already know it.  Stupid know-it-all brain.  So the most important thing is to get other people to read your query – especially people who have never read your book before.  Hence, here is my current draft of the query:

Dear Agent,

George Simpson is a troubled boy.  At least that’s what ten-year-old Jim Pruitt knows about his new-to-town cousin.  In fact, it’s the only thing he knows about him.

Well-behaved and reserved, Jim wants nothing more than to steer clear of George’s trouble.  But that’s easier said than done, especially with his own mother pushing him to spend time getting to know George.  Jim quickly learns spending time with his cousin means spending even more time grounded in his bedroom.

He also learns there is more to George Simpson than he was first willing to believe.

Before he knows it, Jim is tagging along on all of George’s escapades – camping out all night on Hatchet Hill, tracking make-believe Indians in the woods, and even confronting bully Bill Foster and the Pickett twins to rescue a stray pup.

When Bill Foster steals George’s chain necklace, a charm that George believes will save his already doomed soul from going to Hell, there’s no bully big enough or river wide enough to stand in his way of trying to get it back.  But there’s some things even George Simpson can’t get the better of, and jumping into the storm-churned Meramec River to save a drowning pup may prove too much, and forever change the lives of friends and bullies alike.

Any thoughts?  Scrap it all?

I have a feeling many edits will follow before I’m satisfied with it enough to start sending it out.

2 Comments

  1. This bit is a little clunky: especially with his own mother pushing him to spend time getting to know George. Jim quickly learns spending time with his cousin means spending even more time grounded in his bedroom.

    Both time and spending are repeated. It feels like I could cut this down to about half the length. Ex: All Jim knows about his new-to-town cousin George is that he’s a troubled boy.

    Maybe: Jim knows three things about his cousin George: he’s trouble, he’s moving to town, and Jim wants nothing to do with him. Jim’s mother (or maybe, Beth, Jim’s mother) has other ideas, encouraging him to get to know George. It doesn’t take long for Jim to learn that playing with his cousin and getting grounded are much the same thing.

    I dunno, just throwing stuff out there.

    Reply
    • That’s fantastic feedback. Thank you so much for taking the time to read through the query! 🙂 I’m definitely going to look at tightening up those first few lines.

      Reply

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