13 August 2014

Query Letter Panic Attack Mode

I'll make this quick since I've been awake since about 3 AM and already my phone's screen froze and had me cursing and stomping around in the dark because what else can you do at 3 AM besides play games on your phone? It's all fixed now, but I'm already frustrated, tired, and not feeling very optimistic about today. But anyway...

So last night I decided to finally stop procrastinating and checked out what Pitch Wars is all about, and well...I'm totally going to do it! But after making that decision, I immediately went into panic mode. Choosing mentors was fun...I still need to narrow down my list, but this is really the easy part, I think. The hard part is that I have to write a query letter! And I'm kinda stressing out.

The good news is that I have until just before midnight on August 18th to get it done. The better news is that my first chapter (which I also need to submit) is already edited, although I'll probably give it a few rereads before submitting. But just the thought of writing my query letter is making me nervous. I've never actually written one. I have a blurb for my manuscript, but it's not perfect. It's a start, but I still have a lot of work to do.

So that's my goal for the day--to work on this query! And possibly the sex scene, too, since I got a few ideas while I couldn't sleep and couldn't use my phone...but I feel like I say I'm going to work on that everyday, so we'll see how it goes.

If somebody has query tips, or would just like to bring me a paper bag to breathe into, well that would be fantastic.


  1. I really wanted to finish my new WIP for this august but failed... :( I've participated in Pitch Madness three times, I think (not sure how diff it is from PitchWars). I always get a request but I've written in a dead genre (dystopian) and I keep labeling it NA which for a lot of agents seems to mean Upper YA Romance. I think I'll still lable it NA. I know romance is big in NA right now but I'm hoping it will start to expand.

    The first request I got was from bloomsbury and I think I shat myself because not only do most agents/pubs ask for a query....they need the dreaded synopsis also. Sometimes two pages. I didn't think I'd be faved so I had no synopsis prepared. Believe me when I say I didn't sleep for 48 hours.

    Although I ended up getting flat rejections everywhere, it was fantastic participating because that one PitchMadness meant I had so much prepared for actually subbing to agents. Which i probably should get back to.

    Think I should participate in PitchWars? I don't want to end up doing nothing this year.

    Also, AbsoluteWrite is a great place to shine up your query as long as you don't get too carried away with everyone's opinions. Some people try to tailor their query to suit everyone and can be there forever.

    Ok, I've rambled long enough. If you need any extra eyes though, I is here boyeeeee!

    1. Dooooooo it! The good thing about PitchWars (as I understand it anyway) is that you do need a complete manuscript, but it doesn't need to be PERFECT. If you get assigned to a mentor, they're going to help you with the manuscript for about two months before the agent round. Plus I figure if I get picked by a mentor, it won't be announced for another two weeks after the submission date, so that gives me more time to go into extreme editing mode to fix everything that I already know is wrong with it.

      Plus there are 75 mentors to choose from! I was having a lot of fun going through them...some are exclusively asking for NA, too, so they'd be right up your alley. I was surprised at how many YA mentors are interested in LGBT characters so narrowing down my list is difficult! I love so many of them!

  2. Check out Matt McNish's blog for excellent query tips -- and also many, many queries he has critiqued. If you look through his archives, you will even find people who have come back after revising their query to share it again. That before-and-after demonstration is always pretty useful http://theqqqe.blogspot.com/

    And I'm not an expert or anything -- not an agent or an editor, nor do I play one on TV -- I've helped people before by giving them feedback on queries. You can always contact me through my blog.

  3. ARGH blogger just ate my comment! Ooo that's so annoying. I had a nice big comment for you. Lemme boil it down: first of all, GOOD FOR YOU!

    Second, check out Nathan Bransford's blog (former agent, now author) for great query info and tips. Here's a good one: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/08/how-to-write-query-letter.html. But there a ton more there.

    Also go to Writers Digest - they have a TON of stuff there. I like when they interview agents who show a successful query and explain why it worked, like this one: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/successful-queries-agent-elizabeth-winick-rubinstein-and-the-weird-sisters. But search around, cuz there's a ton there.

    THE foremost site for query stuff, without a doubt, is Query Shark: http://queryshark.blogspot.com

  4. We'll try this again... I've studied this subject in depth, and I'll second Nathan Bransford's place, and I LOVED Kristin Nelson's series on successful queries, but I can't seem to find it online anymore. There are SO many resources online, but I think the best thing to do is to look at people's concepts that really grab you by the throat (in your genre), find a pattern you LOVE and mimic it. Yup. Simple as that. (And after fifteen agonizing drafts, you'll come to the perfect query.)

  5. Best of luck with your querying! Breathe deep and enjoy the plunge!

  6. OOH! Good luck! I think the pitch wars are fantastic. Glad you're going for it. Good luck!

  7. Hope you come out with the best query letter with for going on with the stressing nights.

  8. I tend to write a couple of queries and then merge them, if that helps. Good luck with it :-)

  9. Good luck with writing the query letter and the Pitch Wars!