Posted On April 30, 2014 by Print This Post

Query Triumphs, Query Disasters with Laurie Schnebly Campbell

How many of you have ever written a query letter? A show of hands? Trembling hands that is…=) Query letters strike fear into the heart of any writer – but here’s the fantabulous Laurie Schnebly Campbell to help us out with our query quandary.

We’ve all heard about people who had fun coming up with some characters and then, on a whim, sent their work to a pro who cried “Best publishing idea of the decade! Do you want your million-dollar advance in cash or by check?”

HappyFace

We’ve also heard about people who toiled for years on the book of their heart and then, supported by friends or keeping it all a secret, sent their work to a pro who cried “What were you thinking? This is horrendous; it’s utter garbage!”

FrownFace

SKIPPING THE QUERY

Then there are writers who, faced with stories like those, decide that querying is such a long shot — with no possible outcome except for fabulous triumph or humiliating disaster — they’d better not even try it.

WorriedFace

Which is always an option in today’s market, where nobody needs a traditional publisher to get their book listed on Amazon. Sure, they might need someone to look over the contract when a hot new indie producer asks to buy the movie rights, but there’s no point worrying about a query YET.

And yet.

Writers who want an agent or publisher in their corner, offering advice and advances and other perks of doing business with professionals, still need to come up with a query.

Pencil

WRITING WELL

In theory, that should be easy…right? We’re all writers; we know we can craft a juicy description of the hero’s hometown and a heartwarming description of the heroine’s kitten and a sweaty-palms description of the showdown with the villain.

So why is writing a query so hard?

Leaving aside the fact that our entire future hangs in the balance — which, even though that’s not necessarily the case, far too often FEELS like it — queries are scary for another reason.

WHY QUERIES ARE TOUGH

They aren’t what we’re used to writing.

CookbookAuthor

Nobody expects a cookbook author to write software programs while watching TV. Nobody expects a Broadway composer to write romance novels during intermission. Nobody expects a journalist to write grant applications while covering a story.

But for some reason, fiction writers are expected to dash off a compelling sales pitch at the drop of a hat. And when we can’t do it QUITE that quickly, we start to think our writing skills are somehow, er, lacking.

Which isn’t true.

Books

We know all about the craft of building intricate plots, spine-tingling adventure, heart-pounding love scenes, memorable characters and settings and challenges and turnarounds. We’ve studied that. We’ve perfected it, or we’re continuing to perfect it. We’ve learned how to write stories.

THEN, AGAIN…

Writing ads?

Not so much. Or at least not as much as we’ve learned how to write fabulous books.

The thing is, we’re in a much better position than (say) football players or French chefs or floral designers who want to advertise THEIR work. Those people might be great at what they do, but what they do usually doesn’t require any serious skill with words.

Football

That’s why they have to hire sports agents, or business managers, or PR firms to promote their ability.

ENLISTING THE PROS

Writers can hire pros, as well, but we don’t HAVE to. Because we’ve already got the fundamental skills needed for creating a compelling query rather than just a compelling book.

We just need to dig ‘em out, polish ‘em up, and do the kind of who-what-when-where-why work that comes with writing any successful sales piece.

MagnifyingGlass

Any one of us, if we had to write an ad for some product we love, could do a terrific job. Sure, it might require some research to come up with the kind of facts and figures and persuasive arguments that’ll show why somebody needs this product, but writers aren’t scared of research.

Nor are we scared of work!

SHARING TIPS (& PRIZE)

So if you have any experience with writing a query, whether it turned out to be a triumph or a disaster or neither or not-yet-sent, will you do us all a favor and share it here?

Somebody who posts will win free registration to my May 5-30 online class “Q Is For Query, A Is For Aaack” at rwamysterysuspense.org/coffin.php

Prize

And I’d love to quote some of your useful tips next month. So if you’d rather I DIDN’T use your first name, please mention that…otherwise you’ll get credit for whatever you send, whether it’s a handy suggestion or a cool story about some big Query Triumph or Query Disaster.

Because we’ve all heard plenty of those, right?

Laurie, who loves a “bookend” closing!

***

Do you have any query triumphs or fails you’d like to share?

Join us on Friday for Darynda Jones! Squee!

***

Bio: Laurie Schnebly Campbell (BookLaurie.com) works in advertising, where her job is to convince buyers they’ll love a particular product by using the who-what-when-where-why skills of writing copy that sells. She’s always pleased, but not surprised, when people who’ve taken her class report successful results with their new and improved queries.

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70 Responses to “Query Triumphs, Query Disasters with Laurie Schnebly Campbell”

  1. Yes. I find that I can ‘promote’ anyone else, but not myself! So now I just pretend that I am someone else!
    How? That’s how we write characters in books. We create and inhabit the character. So imagine you are a character other than yourself and you will have no trouble writing a query!

    Posted by Sherry Marshall | April 30, 2014, 7:42 am
  2. Hi, Laurie: I’ve taken your classes in the past — they’re excellent.

    In terms of query letters, I have a doozy of a tale. Way back in 2011 or so, I knocked out a query letter in less than an hour, didn’t angst over it, and felt I had something solid. I shot over the query to an agent, who wrote back, “This is the best query I’ve ever received. Please send the full.” Well, I didn’t HAVE the manuscript ready, it was an experiment — a test balloon, and I had an epic fail. The agent rejected the MS. My fault, no one else’s.

    Curious, I entered that same query in a RWA contest, a query letter one, and received a 27 score from a judge. She said that I needed to go back to the writing basics — that I needed to learn to write.

    There was never a sharper contrast in opinions, ever, LOL!

    Posted by Cheryl | April 30, 2014, 8:42 am
  3. Morning Laurie!!

    I think the hardest thing for writers is to try to condense our entire, wonderful, ginormous masterpiece of a manuscript down to just a few paragraphs in a query letter. What to put in? What to leave out? It’s tough!

    I’ve sent out a query letter twice, to the same person, who didn’t receive it (snail mail) either time. =) lol….I figured that was a sign to not query there again…but someday….

    Thanks for posting with us today – we love having you on board!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | April 30, 2014, 9:02 am
  4. Hi Laurie! *Waves* I’m terrible at picking out the best points in a story. I stare at the page to do a query letter and freeze. My writing buddy and I have found a solution. We write down a first draft for each other’s stories and then we can take it from there. Rewriting is so much easier. :)

    Posted by Haley Whitehall | April 30, 2014, 9:33 am
  5. Querying is such a drawn-out process. I have waited anywhere from three months to two years for an answer to a SOLICITED query, meaning one that was requested at a writers’ conference or some other deal (contests held by authors for charity in which the “prize” was an agent talk or whatever). By the time I was getting rejected, the work was stale: chick lit had been declared dead, or whatever. Now I query small presses directly and have had far more success (I’m with Muse Harbor Publishing and oak Tree Press.) I also believe the paradigm in publishing is due to shift once again and shake out the market. The skills you use in querying, however, will translate to self-promotion and guest blogging and so forth. If you do choose to query traditional publishers, good luck to you!

    Posted by Shalanna Collins (Denise Weeks) | April 30, 2014, 9:34 am
    • Denise, good for you on finding the best use for your query skills — you’re right that it’s SO much better to have that freedom of choice! I remember horror stories from the old days, when editors/agents held all the cards…aren’t we lucky that’s no longer the case?

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | April 30, 2014, 9:45 am
  6. Like Carrie said–that condensing a story in a few paragraphs is really hard. I haven’t had to query in a while. Now I just send in a synopsis, but I still find those hard to write short and get in all I think should go in. When I was writing queries someone told me to think about my story as would be put on a back cover copy plus a paragraph about your writing credentials. Good post Laurie
    Roz

    Posted by Roz Fox | April 30, 2014, 9:37 am
    • Roz, I’ll bet there are as many synopsis triumphs & disasters as there are for queries — and “short” IS hard for both. I bet you’ll know who gets credit for that wonderful saying about “Sorry for such a long letter; I didn’t have time to write a short one”?

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | April 30, 2014, 9:48 am
  7. Queries, like synopses, make me reach for my inhaler. And use it.

    I have a do and don’t regarding queries that are part of the same thought – DO be clear about the tone of your book, DON’T add humor (or other mood) to your query if your story is not humorous (or that other mood).

    I made this mistake while live-pitching to an editor (same as a query only face to face and way more terrifying). She was wonderful to speak with and immediately made me feel at ease while trying to sell my story. Thing is, I commented on something my hero says in my book and, out of context, it sounded very funny. It wasn’t supposed to be, but we laughed together at that moment and throughout my entire pitch. It wasn’t until later that I realized I’d given her the wrong impression of my story. That meant the story I pitched to her – the story she requested – wasn’t the story I had written.

    A query has to be personable yet professional, and while you want part of your personality to come through, you must be sure its tone is true to the tone of your book.

    My 2 cents. ;-)

    Posted by Debora Dale | April 30, 2014, 9:45 am
    • Debora, it’s such fun to picture you and the agent laughing all the way through your appointment — even though it gave the wrong impression of your story, I’ll bet she enjoyed that ten minutes. And if you query her again, you’ll have a great “tidbit” to throw in!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | April 30, 2014, 10:05 am
  8. The first version of the query letter I wrote for my first novel was an utter failure. It didn’t receive one positive response, I think for two different reasons. One, it was too long and spent too much time talking about the story, which made it lack the snap of ad copy. Second, I had no publishing credits, so the paragraph about me was sadly lacking in – well, anything. A year later, after acquiring a couple of dozen short story credits, I re-issued essentially the same letter, but with one of the story paragraphs cut out and a much longer one about my publishing history included. As that has generated numerous positive responses, I would say that it’s been successful. The lesson I drew from this was that less actually can be more when describing your project – and that although you don’t have to have published a book to get noticed, you’d better have published something!

    Posted by Lori Schafer | April 30, 2014, 9:45 am
  9. Hi Laurie. Writing a great query letter should be as easy as A-I-D-A. Grab Attention. Create Interest. Lead to Desire and finally Action. Problem is I’m still trying to find the gizmo that will help me do AIDA and create the perfect Query letter! :D

    Posted by Adite Banerjie | April 30, 2014, 9:50 am
    • Adite, when I first started reading the initials I thought “oh, cool, they’re the same as in Adite’s name” and then realized it was a different mnemonic — but still a good one. And isn’t it nice knowing you can sell successfully even without the perfect query?

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | April 30, 2014, 10:35 am
  10. Oh, to be at that point where I’m ready to send out a query letter–although I am closer, thanks to your classes, Laurie.

    Would a query letter for a book be similar to a query letter for a magazine article?

    And Cheryl, or Laurie, where does a 27 RWA score rank? Or, what’s the top you can score? Looks like judging is based a lot on personal likes or dislikes. Guess that makes the ground work in querying the right publisher all the more important.

    Sigh. So much to learn…

    Posted by Cara | April 30, 2014, 9:55 am
    • Cara, you’re SO much closer to being ready than you’re giving yourself credit for — and a book query does have some things in common with a magazine query, for what that’s worth. RWA scores in the old days ran from 1-100, although they’re always changing .

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | April 30, 2014, 10:37 am
      • Hi, Cara, Laurie — it was 27 points out of a possible 100.

        RWA contest results vary wildly for me — I score 100 from one judge, 55 from another — on the same exact entry.

        Lots of folks have experienced this, too.

        RWA contests work for some writers and don’t for others. I know of a multi-pubbed author who couldn’t get anywhere with RWA contests… another person who placed in 25+ contests and couldn’t land a book deal… and is now self-pubbing.

        The lesson for me: we don’t know what our path “in” will be, only that we’ve got to keep at it, and to stay centered, cheerful, productive and humble.

        Posted by Cheryl | April 30, 2014, 11:37 am
        • You have a fantastic attitude. Hope it’s catching. :)

          Thanks for the clarification. Will keep all that in mind whenever I start entering RWA contests.

          Good luck.

          Posted by Cara | April 30, 2014, 4:53 pm
  11. As hard as it is to write the summary of the book, my biggest problem is what ELSE to include. Okay, I get the whole genre/word count sentence. But then what?

    The personal information paragraph is my nightmare area. I don’t have any publications to my name and no reason in particular why I’m the best person to write my book, other than an interest in the subject (i.e. no degree, personal experience or specialized knowledge). I’ve been part of a critique group for 3+ years, but what does that prove? In prior queries I’ve tried, I just skipped this part. The queries were unsuccessful, but form rejections (or no response at all)don’t tell me if it was because they didn’t like my story or if they didn’t like not knowing anything about me.

    Posted by Heather Jackson | April 30, 2014, 10:01 am
    • You’re underestimating yourself!! :) The paragraph about you doesn’t have to be anything excessive. You have at least THREE YEARS of writing experience, working with critique partners. What does that prove, you ask? Actually, it proves you’ve been brave enough to show your manuscript to someone else AND take feedback on it. There are OTHER WRITERS who accept YOUR opinions on their work. It DOES mean something–and editors/agents know that.

      I usually put down “I’ve been a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) (X years); the local State chapter of RWA (X years), the Z online chapter (Y years).” Just being a member of a writers group related to your genre means you’re professionally pursuing your craft–and if you’ve just joined, just say “I am a member of…” and skip how long.

      They understand some people are starting out. Good luck!!

      Posted by Rowan Worth | April 30, 2014, 10:34 am
    • Heather, you’re sure not alone in wishing for more impressive credentials, nor in wishing people would say WHY they’re declining. But, coming from an advertising perspective (of course), you have plenty of qualifications you can brag about…really!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | April 30, 2014, 10:40 am
  12. Keep up-to-date on the “rules”. At our RWA Chapter conference this month, an editor mentioned she was still getting emails with attachments–three, in fact: the cover letter (‘pretending it was on letterhead’), the synopsis, and the first few pages. I was STUNNED–that’s how I had been taught to do it. That was The Professional Way. I had always been told the other way was amateurish and unprofessional. She said for electronic submissions, put everything into the body of the email with a line or spaces between each “section”. They don’t open attachments AT ALL. EVER.

    Posted by Rowan Worth | April 30, 2014, 10:03 am
  13. I still think of query letters as “cover letters” and “business correspondence”. And treat them as such. First rule–proofread everything and then have someone else do it for you. Two people, if you can. Editor/agents have all kinds of stories about people spelling their name wrong, forgetting to change the name in the Dear X: line, etc.

    The purpose of the letter is to get them to read the chapter/synopsis…I use para one to explain why I want THEM to buy the book (met them at a conference, etc.); para two to give them an idea of what the book is, the characters, and the ‘hook’ that I use for pitches; para three is why I’m not a blithering idiot…my RWA/chapter credentials, contest finals/placements, and anything professional experience that ties my skills to the storyline. Last line is thanks & how to contact me. It’s simple and moves them into the next part–the chapters/synopsis is where you have to grab them.

    Treat them like professionals and don’t waste their time. If your pitch is correctly aimed and professionally presented, they’ll take that next step.

    Posted by Rowan Worth | April 30, 2014, 10:13 am
  14. I haven’t done any formal queries in a while, now. (I’ve tried a couple of open submissions for anthologies, but that’s a very different process.) So I don’t really have a particular experience to share.

    I think my favorite piece of advice, though, was to build your query about whatever most excited you about writing your book in the first place: a particularly compelling character, an intriguing setting, that odd little personal dynamic between the male and female leads, the way the plot just happened to fit together (especially at That One Moment)… whatever it was that made you want to write the book in the first place, or kept you going until you could finish writing it.

    Focus on what excited you, and let that excitement sell your work.

    Posted by Michael Mock | April 30, 2014, 10:22 am
  15. Hi, Laurie. I’ve just spent a lot of time trying to get a query and synopsis ready to send out. Finally got something put together with the help of great fellow writers at CBC. My best advice is to have fresh eyes take a look at your first draft of a query. Friends can see what you can’t. Thanks for a chance at a give-away of one of your classes.

    Posted by Stephanie Berget | April 30, 2014, 10:25 am
    • Steph, you’re so right about the value of fresh eyes — and when they belong to friends who are also writers, that’s an extra advantage because they’re more likely to know what’s important while also delivering their comments in the most helpful manner possible. :)

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | April 30, 2014, 10:49 am
  16. Hey Laurie!

    I try not to get to worked up about writing queries. I think I try to make sure I have some distance between me and the story when I sit down to write the query so I can see more clearly the nuts and bolts that need to go into it. I agree with your other commenters that tone should match. And I liked the AIDA idea. I think one thing that i have to watch out for, is that if I do get too worked up about it, then the query will sound too stiff and formal, and my personality won’t come through!

    Posted by Charlotte Raby | April 30, 2014, 10:38 am
    • Charlotte, your mention of personality coming through makes me think of that tricky area…how much should there BE? Definitely not worth getting worked up about, but it’s wonderful when a query shows not only what the reader wants to know, but also some personality!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | April 30, 2014, 10:51 am
  17. I’ve also taken your class and thanks to you I’ve had lots of requests from the query I crafted in your online class.

    Speaking of coming up with a successful query in a matter of minutes, I entered Brenda Drake’s #PitchMadness this March. I needed to have a 38 word pitch. After a few half hearted attempts I knew I’d never get the who,what,where, why in there. Not in this lifetime. So I went with this off the cuff:

    Cue one hunky pilot. Add a klutzy heroine. Stir with flying lessons. Caution: someone will definitely fall.

    I thought it was awful. Guess what? I finaled – out of over 600 entries, mine was one of 60 chosen.

    Posted by Maria | April 30, 2014, 11:18 am
  18. After taking an RWAU class on queries taught by Sherry Thomas, I crafted a query for a Regency novella I’d written in response to a call for submissions. It was rejected by that publisher. Around that time, Sherry came to speak to our local chapter and do a query workshop for PROs. She had several PRO queries, including mine, to critique. At the end, she hadn’t reached mine, and I thought “ooh it must be so awful she doesn’t want to touch it!” I steeled myself for the worst and raised my hand. She found it and said, “Oh no, that one is fine. I didn’t see any problems.” The next publisher I submitted it to came back right away with a request for the full, and the novella, Rosalyn’s Ring, came out last summer, yay! The sequel, Bella’s Band is due out in September.

    Posted by Alina K. Field | April 30, 2014, 11:59 am
  19. Sometimes using another person, like a critique partner, to write your query can be so helpful. Often our writing partners can advertise us better than we can ourselves because they’re not in the weeds of the story and emotionally bonded to every detail. :)

    Posted by Megan Ryder | April 30, 2014, 12:22 pm
  20. I was too chicken to write a query, so I’m not much help with a tip. But if I ever needed to, I’d take your class first! You’ve helped improve my skills and I’ll forever be grateful! I guess I’d ask my writerly friends to crit my query and look for examples from the agent/publisher I’m querying (find what they’re asking for). :)

    Posted by Brenda | April 30, 2014, 12:32 pm
  21. Hi Laurie,
    Query letters are a bit of a mystery to me and I’d be stumped if I had to write one.
    I tend to target Harlequin’s London office who like a short (1 or 2 page) synopsis, 3 chapters and a simple cover letter (very short–just a couple of paragraphs.)
    I should defintely learn how to write a query letter. Are they sales pitches, usually sent instead of chapters and a synopsis, with the aim of getting the editor interested enough to request chapters?
    I should really learn more about them incase I decide to submit to a North American publisher.

    Posted by Janet Ch | April 30, 2014, 1:28 pm
    • Janet, you’re already writing all the ingredients of a query letter — it’s exactly what you said, a sales pitch that aims to get the editor (or agent) interested enough to request chapters & a synopsis. Or, if they’re VERY interested, the entire manuscript!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | April 30, 2014, 1:39 pm
  22. Hi Laurie,
    My personal take on query and synopsis is that like almost everything in our lives, there is “it” side and there is a business side. Dread or not, query and synopsis, if done right, not only open doors to the publishing industry, but also boost our confidence and silence up that inner critic. What’s more important to me, it gives the structure and vision for the story and a milestone of accomplishment.
    And as always, your classes are fabulous!

    Posted by Natalie | April 30, 2014, 1:38 pm
    • Natalie, I like your take on the internal benefits of writing a query letter — that makes the whole process sound much less intimidating and more rewarding. Even though not every writer NEEDS such an incentive, it’s great for anyone who feels a bit doubtful!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | April 30, 2014, 1:41 pm
  23. Query fails? You mean besides finding spelling/grammar mistakes as soon as you hit send?! Or finding out the person you just sent the query to no longer works at the agency — ack!?

    I think reading a lot of back of the book blurbs is a good piece of advice and also stalk … following the editor or agent that you are querying. He/she often gives out a lot of advice as to what they think should go in the query.

    Finally, I stand by the Good Old GMC as a good way to structure the hook and then to keep me on track as I craft the remainder of the query.

    Posted by Heidi | April 30, 2014, 1:40 pm
  24. Hi Laurie, I took your query class years ago. Absolutely loved it and it helped quite a bit. Though I must say query writing is still a major source of anxiety for me. :)

    Posted by Emma Leigh Reed | April 30, 2014, 1:41 pm
    • Emma, I’m so glad you look back on the class as helpful — but sorry you’re still battling anxiety, drat it. Back then we might not have covered how your level of anxiety has NOTHING to do with your level of skill, so it’s good to know there’s absolutely no connection!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | April 30, 2014, 1:46 pm
  25. I took Laurie’s class on Queries. At the time, I didn’t really grasp the difference between a query and a synopsis. I think the best thing I learned was not to take a query rejection personal. It is sort of like speed dating. You want to show your best in a very short spand and not everyone will be interested, but if you keep at it, you’ll find your perfect match. Just like researching your story, do your homework on the publisher or agent you are submitting. Is it the right genre, do they have authors you admire, have there been complaints? The most important thing to remember is to never give up, keep learning, keep reading and keep believing in yourself! That’s the best thing about Laurie, she helps you find your strengths and shows how to build upon them!

    Posted by Margie Hall | April 30, 2014, 1:59 pm
    • Margie, it’s so cool seeing what lessons stuck with you — everybody takes home slightly different things, and your take on speed-dating is wonderful! Because you’re right, it IS a short encounter and it saves so much time to know “not right” up front if that’s the case.

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | April 30, 2014, 3:16 pm
  26. I highly recommend Laurie’s classes! I give her all the credit for helping me learn to plot. And I’m sure by taking this class, I would also learn how to query successfully.

    The previous poster said Laurie helps you find and build upon your strengths and I totally agree.

    Posted by Carol Opalinski | April 30, 2014, 2:09 pm
    • Carol, it’s always nice seeing an endorsement…you’ve got me wishing I were putting together a testimonial video. :) The work you did in that previous class will come in VERY handy next time you’re ready to query, either the book you wrote there or a whole new one!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | April 30, 2014, 3:17 pm
  27. Laurie’s classes are awesome! She’s helped me put “steam” in my esteem issues with my writing. And if I win the class, it’ll be another win-win situation!

    Posted by Marcia | April 30, 2014, 3:30 pm
  28. I heard it’s a good idea to read agent blogs when they discuss what they send for and why. Someone said Nathan Bransford and Sara Megibow talk about specific query letters.

    I haven’t sent anything but would like to when my book is almost finished.

    Best,
    Naomi

    Posted by Naomi Phillips | April 30, 2014, 6:45 pm
  29. Naomi, it can be enlightening to see what various agents (or editors) think of queries. Some point out basics that EVERY writer can use; others have individual preferences that can be uplifting or disheartening — it all depends on how closely they match your style!

    Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | April 30, 2014, 7:18 pm
  30. Hi Laurie. Always love your classes and blogs :-)

    I think many of us find it hard to write a query/synopsis because it requires us to tell not show (which goes against our writer’s instincts.) That’s why I find it easiest to record my query as if I were explaining the high points of a movie to a friend. Enough to peak their interest but not so detailed as to ruin it for them.

    Posted by Lee C. | April 30, 2014, 10:34 pm
    • Lee, that’s great advice — I always think of a live pitch as being very much like explaining a movie’s high points, but it makes equally good sense for a query. And you’re SO right about how strange it feels to tell-not-show…we need Official Permission to do that!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | April 30, 2014, 10:38 pm
  31. Hi Laurie. Always love your classes and blogs :-)

    I think many of us find it hard to write a query/synopsis because it requires us to tell not show (which goes against our writer’s instincts.) That’s why I find it easiest to record my query as if I were explaining the high points of a movie to a friend. Enough to pique their interest but not so detailed as to ruin it for them. Then I edit it down when transcribing. Works for me.

    Posted by Lee C. | April 30, 2014, 10:37 pm
  32. Thanks for a great post! I had one query letter that didn’t work at all – it was too complicated, as was the story.

    I had another query letter that was extremely successful – I got requests from almost everyone I sent it to. If only the story was as good as the query letter. I’m still working on that one…

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | April 30, 2014, 10:43 pm
    • Aw, Becke, I’m impressed that you spotted how the problem was with the story rather than the query — it’s so much easier to blame the query for a rejection, since we don’t have as much invested in that. But viewing it with the kind of perspective you achieved is a lot more useful in the long run!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | April 30, 2014, 10:53 pm
  33. Thanks to everybody who shared WONDERFUL advice and some very entertaining stories about Query Triumphs and Query Disasters!

    Those of you who’ve already signed up for the “Q Is For Query, A Is For Aaack” class beginning on Monday at http://www.rwamysterysuspense.org/coffin.php will get a kick out of seeing excerpts from today’s posts.

    And here’s a BIG congratulations to Megan Ryder, random-dot-org’s #18 on the list of people who posted, for winning free registration TO that class — Megan, just email me (Book Laurie gmail com) with your address so I can get you signed up.

    Laurie, who really enjoyed seeing all of you who were here today because there’s nothing as much fun as hanging out with writers!

    Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | April 30, 2014, 10:59 pm
  34. Nice post, Laurie! I find the most common mistake novelist make when they are writing their query letters is that novelists often give away too much. Novelists should only give the highlights and definitely what the core concept of the book is, but you don’t have to give a synopsis of every single chapter.

    Posted by Anita Diggs | May 27, 2014, 5:57 pm

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