Queries are unique. Well, at least to me some of them are. I received one recently declaring I would be reading the greatest love story if I requested the manuscript. Hmmm…. I didn’t know that Jane Austen was still writing. Or maybe it was Shakespeare who had signed the query. Or James Cameron had made Titanic into a novel? But alas, it was none of those. The author promised love, intrigue, romance, and everything I always wanted in a story.
I was interested, but wary of what I would receive. So I requested a partial of the story. Guess what I got…the full manuscript written in play form with spaces for pictures. Pictures??? Oh my. My heart broke for this author. She really believed she was correct in her submission.
The query is the first impression you will make on the editor. And it needs to be a good one. Here are a few general guidelines when it comes to writing your query.
1. Keep your blurb simple and make sure you have a hook that makes me want to read more. Include only the main characters and a theme-driven statement.
2. Format the query in readable type. No fancy fonts, colors, or pictures.
3. Avoid giving too much information (TMI). Be personable, professional and interesting, but don’t tell too much that doesn’t involve your writing career.
4. Check spelling, grammar, and punctuation. I’ve received so many queries with grammatical errors. That really sets a bad impression.
5. Include your word count.
6. For a historical, include the setting. I don’t want to guess when or when the story takes place.
This may all seen very particular. But we see a lot of queries every week. Make yours stand out. Maybe I will find that next great love story.