Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Groveling Bootlicker Of A Letter

The other day, I went through a few old dusty computer files, mostly for shits and giggles. No, not really for shits and giggles, because whenever I go through my old computer files, it's never for shits and giggles, it's always done with a purpose and a destination in mind.

This time the destination in mind was to see what I had (if any) in the files that passed for a query letter. Why was I searching for a query letter? Well, to be honest with you, I did such a fantastically shitty job of querying Shades of Love in 2007-08 that when the dust finally settled, I thought it would in my best interests for my peace of mind to purge everything related to those two years of doing everything that I could possibly do wrong with my first novel.

So you can imagine my surprise when I found sitting in an old folder called "Agents" was a neatly typed, properly formatted and (very much to my shock) properly written query letter. Now what I mean by properly written was that it contained all the elements that all the talking heads/pundits in every writer's guide under the sun, either in print or the cyber world, have pounded into the collective conscience of every single writer since day one.

After reading this thing, the one thing that stood out to me was that for the first and (probably) only time during those early years, I actually took someone's advice (a person who I now hate with a passion that's even stronger than my hatred of this organization) in order to properly write this thing.

Now I'm sure you want to ask the computer screen, "G, why are you writing about an old query letter?"

Go on, ask away.

"G, why are you writing about an old query letter?"

Glad you asked, because you'll never know unless you ask. I'm writing about an old query letter because I'm finally getting around to laying the groundwork so that I can start submitting my novel Line 21 for publication. And since I'm such of a big fan of using outlines/templates for every single item of correspondence that I write in the business world, I might as well start applying the same ideas to the writing world.

Hence, the post about the query letter.

And as you know, since I love it when my friends/readers critique my writings, be it the short stories on the now closed Flashing Georgie's Shorts or the synopsis that I posted about a week ago, I thought I would do the same with my old query letter.

So if you follow me over to Partially Yours, I would like to present to you my old query letter from 2008. And if you could be so kind, please tell me if it meets the basic requirements of what a good query letter should contain, because I plan on using this letter as the basis for a template when I start querying my novel in earnest.

Don't hold back, because I really need to know what can be added and what can be dropped from the final product.


  1. Since I haven't submitted anything for publication, I don't know the proper format for a query letter, but I thought it sounded good and I would take notice.

    The one thing that struck me that I might omit is the paragraph about problems in your marital life. I don't know that a publisher would need to know that part in order to make a decision.

  2. Lynn: I definitely will. Like I said, the main idea of this letter is to use it as a template. Not having the exact same content, but using it as a basis for the letter.

    Sort of like when you're writing business correspondence. I have about a half dozen form letters that I use at work and I tweak each as needed depending on a given situation.

    Most query letters have basically the same element in them. It's just the matter of tweaking them so that they sound more personal and less form letter-ish.

  3. PS I forgot to write over there that it looked like a good letter.

  4. R: Thanks.

    Like I said, it was one of the few things that I did right back then. I do want to use this letter as a template for my upcoming queries.

  5. ditto on the not knowing what a good one looks like, but certainly wishing you the greatest success in selling your work

  6. I'm out of blog time today, but will attempt perusing your other blogs in the next few days. Have a lovely 2 day thaw!

  7. Darth: Thanks. It's not so much as knowing what a good one looks like, since all kinds of agents/writers have an opinion on what a good one looks like, but knowing if it contains all the necessary parts so that it doesn't get tossed to the side.

    Snaggle: Thanks. Hopefully you'll get the same as well.

  8. Bearman: Trust me, I definitely weren't no adult movie star for this novel. :D

  9. Funny, I've actually been looking online for query letters.

    I've never written one myself, but after reading quite a few others, yours is one that I would definitely copy. But not in an illegal way. ;)

  10. Bea: Feel free to use it as a guideline. It took me quite a while to figure out how to properly write one, even while using a couple of "how-to" books as helpers.

  11. Extra O: Thanks. I'm hoping to have some (any for that matter) luck with my writing for a change.


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