Writer's Road Chat Recap: Querying

This week's chat was all about querying, when to query, how to query, and who to query. Here is an abbreviated recap, complete with links to the chatters on Twitter:

 Getting ready for #WritersRoad and it looks like we need a eulogy for TweetChat. It is dead as a door nail. So I'm using Tweetdeck.

@HeatherMcCorkle And of course that makes me think we need a chat sometime about where all those old sayings come from. #WritersRoad

@Nightveil to@HeatherMcCorkle Dearly beloved we are gathered here today to mourn our dearly departed TweetChat. #WritersRoad

@HeatherMcCorkle to @Nightveil *raises hands in praise for its finer days* #WritersRoad

@HeatherMcCorkle When to query may seem like a given, when you're done with your manuscript, right? Well, yes, but, 'done' means well edited. #WritersRoad

@HeatherMcCorkle Agents and editors expect manuscripts to be polished now more than ever. If you send in a rough draft, your chances decline. #WritersRoad

@HeatherMcCorkle Your ready once you've edited to the best of your ability (several times), ran it by bets/crit partners, then edited again. #WritersRoad

@HeatherMcCorkle Our friend @Nightwolfwriter reminds me of a great point. Writer's Beware is a site you should check before querying. #WritersRoad

@lkgg to. @HeatherMcCorkle A polished manuscript is critical because there is less $/time for edits later. Depending on the book. #WritersRoad

@Nightwolfwriter I beleive in the "read outloud" method of editing conversations.. If you run out of breath, your sentence is probably too long. #writersroad

@Loriprima So what do people think of the query/pitch contests on Twitter? Good? Bad? Any personal experiences to share? #WritersRoad

@HeatherMcCorkle to @Loriprima I love them and think they're a great idea. The one-sentence pitch is important to get down for many reasons. #WritersRoad

@HeatherMcCorkle After you've edited well, next comes the 'how to' part. The query letter or in person pitch is an art that you need to develop. #WritersRoad

@Nightwolfwriter There're some good sources for learning about queries. Reading other queries and figuring out why they work/don't is valuable. #WritersRoad

@HeatherMcCorkle Many agents have blogged about how to write a good query letter, or have links on their site. Be sure to read these! #WritersRoad

@Nightwolfwriter Query Shark, Miss Snark's archive or my fav - Query Letter Hell at absolutewrite.com #WritersRoad

@HeatherMcCorkle Your query letter should be one page, highlight the key points of your book, and make the agent want to read more. #WritersRoad

@HeatherMcCorkle Your query letter should be one page, highlight the key points of your book, and make the agent want to read more. #WritersRoad

@HeatherMcCorkle Query letter don'ts: Don't ever lie and don't query before you are finished with your book (including editing). #WritersRoad

@HeatherMcCorkle Most agents want to know the length, genre, interesting points, sometimes comps (good ones, not outrageous). #WritersRoad

@teetate Also remember that a #query is a professional letter. Don't talk abt your cats or your vacay. Your ms is what matters. #writersroad

@EbonyMcKenna Practise writing a query, use a novel you enjoyed, easier when it's not your 'baby'. Practise makes perfect. #WritersRoad

@HeatherMcCorkle Query do's: Do mention literary awards (even finalists), do mention writing mentors/teachers if they're well known. #WritersRoad

@mayaprasadwrite Query do's: Be a tease, but don't be vague. Finding the right level of detail is key. Use CPs to find it! #WritersRoad

@Nightwolfwriter Query don't: Mention degrees/work unless they're related to your subject. PhD in rocket science != ability to write romance #WritersRoad

Query do's: Do know and follow each individual agent's guidelines. Don't know them? Research & find them. #WritersRoad

@mayaprasadwrite IMO, using title comparisons in your query is tricky. Don't use overused titles but also don't use something too obscure #WritersRoad

@HeatherMcCorkle Query don'ts: Don't chronicle events. Such as 'this happens, then this happens, then this happens..' Needs to read interesting. #WritersRoad

@HeatherMcCorkle Querying in person do's: Eat mints before hand. Trust me, just do it. #WritersRoad

@MissDahlELama DON'T: Query more than one agent per e-mail; use "Dear Agent" instead of the right name; query a genre (s)he doesn't rep. #WritersRoad

@HeatherMcCorkle Querying in person don'ts: Try not to ramble. Once you realize you are, stop and take a breath. #WritersRoad

@mayaprasadwrite Voice can make your #query stand out in a sea of others. Do your best to show yours off. #WritersRoad

@teetate Re: in person pitches, know what you're going to say beforehand and be professional. #Writersroad

@mayaprasadwrite to@HeatherMcCorkle LOL, yes to mints! +don't get defensive if the agent isn't interested. Smile & know someone else might be.

@HeatherMcCorkle Querying in person is where the one sentence pitch really comes in handy. Start with it and grab their attention. #WritersRoad

@teetate Don't offend other authors in your genre. Ever. It's tacky & unprofessional. #writersroad

@HeatherMcCorkle Querying in person do's: Remember agents are people too and that this is a business for them, as it should be for you. #WritersRoad

@mayaprasadwrite Feel like your #query isn't representing your book? Try a new angle, or many. Ask your CPs to judge the best. #WritersRoad

@mayaprasadwrite Who to Query: If you can swing Publisher's Marketplace ($20/month) it will show you what an agent has sold. #WritersRoad

@HeatherMcCorkle Research agents and choose carefully. The agent's style (hands on, or other) needs to match what you want. #WritersRoad

@EbonyMcKenna A query should have MC's goal, motivation and sense of conflict - ie, what's stopping them from succeeding. #WritersRoad

@MissDahlELama If you're not so Internet-research-savvy, you can look in the acknowledgments of books like yours to see who repped the author. #WritersRoad

@TomHoefner What do you do when you already do all the things suggested on #WritersRoad & other Twitter roundtables & STILL have no query luck?

@HeatherMcCorkle to @TomHoefner Good question! Either get help revising your query, or your work because one of them isn't working at that point. #WritersRoad

 Perseverance is one of the best tools of the unrepped writer's toolkit. To win the lotto you have to be in it. Keep showing up. #WritersRoad

@Nightwolfwriter  You could have a great query & book, but if the agent sold one just like it recently, they'll pass. It takes talent & timing. #WritersRoad

@TomHoefner  to “@HeatherMcCorkle: @TomHoefner Now comes the blind luck. #WritersRoad” It's just nice to hear someone admit that...
@EbonyMcKenna  I had 3 face-to-face query pitches. Wrote it all down on small notes, memorised etc - but also put in space to breathe. #writersroad

@HeatherMcCorkle  When you can, attend writer's workshops, continue to improve, then attend conference to pitch in person. #WritersRoad

@EbonyMcKenna  If you're presenting in person, don't machine-gun it all out. Give them time to interrupt - then you can chat! #writersroad

@EbonyMcKenna  If you have a 5-minute window, make sure you don't talk for more than 3. It's a conversation, not a barrage of words. #writersroad

@teetate  For #queries remember: follow the agent's guidelines, don't babble, get to the point & be professional. #writersroad


  1. Reading out loud is a great method. I never thought about the running-out-of-breath part. Good point!

    1. It's a great 'tell' when your sentence is too long. ;)

  2. Great point that if you're given 5 minutes to only talk for 3. I hadn't thought of that but it makes sense.

    1. It's one of those little things that can turn out to be huge. Agents like to ask questions and when we don't give them time, it can get frustrating for them.

  3. Wonderful information, as always! Christy

  4. What a great subject! And thanks for the recap. I think that we need to remember that agents are busy people who want to work with you. Give them a reason.


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