Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sending Query Letters

This week I've been working on sending queries to agents, among other ongoing projects. The thing about query letters is that no one can really tell you how to write one. I went through about 10 websites and read about how to write one and then read the sample letters. It sounds simple until you notice that every site has a different set of instructions and samples that are completely different from each other. My Writer's Market came on Saturday, and that has additional information about query letters. I tend to trust them more than a lot of other sources, but many of these sites have letters that actually got them an agent or a publication deal.

Most of the resources I've seen have a paragraph-by-paragraph plan for putting together a query letter. But, is that really wise? As long as the basic information is there- the name of the book, the basic contents and the writer's credentials, does it really have to follow a specific paragraph order? Is there no room for creativity? The point is to generate an interest in the work, so I'm hoping to do that, even if the result is simply what I think works best rather than a four paragraph clinical analysis.

I haven't sent query letters in years, so the biggest surprise this week is that many agents will now accept email queries. That makes it easy, perhaps a little too easy, to send queries quickly and to keep track of them. I worry now that the ease may have resulted in my sending queries too early, before I have perfected the letter itself. Having agent email addresses in front of you is a lot like having left over birthday cake. It's a lot of temptation, and thought and care should be taken before giving in.

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