Sunday, November 28, 2004

QUERY SHARK FAQ

These questions are drawn from those posted to the Questions? post.

The FAQ covers how QueryShark works, not general query questions.  (if you ask a question other than about QS it won't get posted. Things like "double spaced?" or "should I mention I live in Antarctica?" are not about how QS works. You can get those asked and answered at AbsoluteWrite  Check them out.)

If you have questions, post in the comment column here. I'll augment the FAQ as needed.

1. How do you choose which queries get posted on the site? Are they posted in the order received?

I look for queries with interesting errors, or errors on a subject I haven't ranted about previously.

No.


2. If a query doesn't get posted, does that mean the author didn't follow the instructions?

No.


3. How do queries for children's books differ from others you typically critique (if there are any differences?)

Read the archives. There are queries for picture books, middle grade and YA books on the blog.

4. Do you accept queries for children's books here on Query Shark?

Yes


5. When Query Shark goes back to being Clark Kent, according to her web site, my stuff does not fall into the things that she is usually looking for. So is it still okay to send a Query for critique? And - just in case the roof caves in or God arrives in Pittsburgh - if she likes it, do I send a query for the kind of material she doesn't handle?

yes. I critique work in categories I don't sell.

You can query me at FPLM for anything you want. What's the worst that could happen? You'll hear "no." Despite intense lobbying, there are still no Query Police to run you in for Query Violations.

6. Are there winners which you don't post, given that 99% are not posted? Or do you post every winner?


No. Yes.
I don't use QueryShark entries as an auxiliary query pool.


7. How far back do you go in the e-mail archives to consider using a query as a post? When can I figure I'll never see that particular query used as an example?

120 days or so.


8. For the queries that end with "I'd request pages" from the Shark, do you request pages off the QS submission, or do you wait for the person to query you officially at your J.Reid email?


I don't request pages from QS postings. I'm glad when those authors do query since they have projects that sound interesting. I've read ten or so full manuscripts that I originally met here at QS.

9. If someone sends you a query but get an agent before the query is posted here, would you rather that person (a) do nothing, (b) send you an email saying "please pull my query from the pile" (and if so, how should one attempt to identify it to make it easier for you to find), or (c) something else entirely?


Withdraw the query. You don't need a critique because your query worked. (hurray!) Send an email requesting it not be used. As long as the email addresses are the same, I can' find you pretty easily.

10. Is there a similar site that deals with non-fiction queries?

As far as I know there isn't. If there is, could someone please let me know.

11. Is it okay to ask if you've signed up any Shark winners?

yes. One.


12. Really dumb question here.... what does FTW stand for?

For the Win. It means the query has been revised to the point that I think it's ready to go out.


13. I need help. Every time I try to send a query to the Shark I get a failure to send message. What am I doing wrong.

I have no idea.

22 comments:

Chris said...

Is it possible to get feedback even if the query isn't posted on the blog?

Janet Reid said...

No

Randy Chestnut said...

Is January of 2004 truly the beginning? I want to be sure I've read everything, and the January 2004 archive postings refer to prior goings-on.

Janet Reid said...

QueryShark posts start with #1. Don't pay attention to the date. I change the date on posts that are instructions as a housekeeping tool.

Colin said...

What is the difference between saying "I'd request pages," and "Send pages NOW! In fact, why are you still reading this?!"? If a lucky poster should have one of these two comments attached to their query, would you expect the same response (i.e., pages in your inbox)?

A Fish Alone said...

What is the ideal word count for a query letter? As I read your posts I continue to pare mine down.

Colin said...

@A Fish Alone: I think Ms. Shark says the query should be no more than 250 words. The thought is that the agent doesn't have all day to vet queries, so the query has to get to the point and sell the work very quickly. Also, if the agent is checking queries on his/her smart phone, the query needs to be visible without a lot of scrolling (which is also why she says to put contact info at the end of the query, not at the top).

As I work on my query, I try to put myself in the shoes of a busy agent with coffee in hand, on the way to a meeting with a publisher, trying to go through e-mail queries one-handed on an iPhone in the back of a cab. I figure if the query can get the interest of the agent in that scenario, it might have a hope!

I hope that helps. I suppose if this gets posted, Ms. Shark approves of the response. :)

JD said...

maybe this has already been answered-- but even if a query isn't posted on the blog, will one get a reply/tips on making the query better? (Just remember snide answerers-- there are no stupid questions, just stupid answers!)

thanks lol ;)

Christine Tyler said...

@Chris and @JD: Nope.
http://queryshark.blogspot.com/2007/08/how-to-get-your-query-letter-discarded.html

Jamie B said...

I saw that you accept queries for picture books, middle grade, and YA. Do you do adult fiction as well?
You also stated that you review for categories that you don't represnt. Any category/genre?

Janet Reid said...

Are you seriously asking if QueryShark covers adult fiction?

I"m going to guess you mean something else, but it's not clear to me what it is. Start again.

Jenadolph said...

Dear QS,
You suggest typing the query directly into email rather than performing cut-and-paste from a Word doc. Does this apply to the first several pages of the ms as well? I'm concerned about typing foibles and weird formatting, especially since I've obsessed over making the ms (Word doc) perfect.

Thanks!

Hope Welsh said...

Hello Query Shark,

I'm a tad confused. On #8 you say that you don't request pages from QS submissions, but I'm about 99% sure I read several where you've replied with something along the lines of "SEND NOW". Is that just a way to let the author know you liked their work and that they should email the query to your agency immediately?

If so, should they remind you that you liked the query they sent to QS in their query to your agency?

Thanks

Hope Welsh said...

I found this information so helpful. I'm sure I'm not the only new person around.

I'd love a job reading through pages of manuscripts. I wanna be a SHARK when I grow up.

As I was reading some of the questions, I realized I'd read the answers elsewhere. Hopefully, I didn't answer any that someone else answered. I tried not to.

Hope they help someone.

JULIAN wrote...

Are there winners which you don't post, given that 99% are not posted?
Or do you post every winner?


From the FAQ:

No. Yes.
I don't use QueryShark entries as an auxiliary query pool.

Theresa Milstein said...

When can I figure I'll never see that particular query used as an example?


FAQ: 7 120 days or so

Marie said...

…My point is, there seems to be a trend where writers submit log lines as queries and queries as the synopsis.What's your take on this? Thank you.


In reading through many of the archived queries, it seems the Shark isn’t terribly fond of log lines.
The query, per her comments, is to tell her who the protagonist is, what’s a stake, what are the consequences of the choices. A query is designed to make the Shark want to read more. It’s not intended to tell the entire story. A synopsis isn't supposed to leave unanswered questions--it can't be a cliffhanger.


Josin L. McQuein said...

For the queries that end with "I'd request pages" from the Shark, do you request pages off the QS submission, or do you wait for the person to query you officially at your J.Reid email?


This was my question, too. In one particular response, I read that she asked the writer for the manuscript or pages. But, in the FAQ she says:

I don't request pages from QS postings. I'm glad when those authors do query since they have projects that sound interesting. I've read ten or so full manuscripts that I originally met here at QS.

Jinlong said...

If someone sends you a query but get an agent before the query is posted here


This was in the FAQ as well:

Withdraw the query.

ironicmom.com said...
Is there a similar site that deals with non-fiction queries?


I read: not that she knows of—but if someone finds one, she wants to know where it is.

Dave said...

Is it okay to ask if you've signed up any Shark winners?


I read that she’d signed one.


Kathryn said...


I've spent thirty years writing sermons, essays, articles for professional journals, devotionals, etc. I realize their irrelevance for fiction. Even worse, I fear my identity as a minister will lump my novel into the inspirational genre, which it doesn't fit.

Any guidance here?



I’ve read through 99% of the archives. From my reading, I’d say that she doesn’t care what you do—and there’s no need to tell her. It could hinder you, even.

Published FICTION you want to tell an agent always.

I saw one reply from the Shark that she often worried about books written by attorneys and physicians because they may focus on the wrong area.

I'd write writing organizations, personally, like RWA for romance.

Redia said...

so if i wanted my query to be reviewed, do I post it in comments??


dmnsqwrtr said...

I'm current working on a fantasy novel and it has multiple POV characters. I'm wondering if I should mention somewhere that there's more than one POV


I wouldn’t mention it. I don't remember many in the "good" ones that even mentioned POV at all.

Mollie Player said...

I'm just wondering if I can get email notifications of new blog posts or subscribe by email.


On the main page is a link to click to subscribe to the blog

Hope Welsh said...

Oh NOOOOO Sorry, Query Shark. I posted the last post in the wrong forum. It was intended to go here:

http://queryshark.blogspot.com/2010/10/questions.html

I'd read through the questions and the ones in the post before this one weren't answered in the thread.

Too late now. I didn't copy it first before hitting submit.

Ron Walters said...

If I emailed you a query a couple of weeks ago, but have since reworked the opening paragraph because I realized the one I sent you was terrible, can I send you the new version? Or hold off for 120 days?

Janet Reid said...

I'm not a huge fan of getting revisions before 120 days.

Ron Walters said...

Thanks for the info. Commencing 120-day countdown.

Run Hawk Run said...

I can't seem to find this in the FAQ or any related posts.

Do you accept queries for graphic novels?

Janet Reid said...

Run Hawk Run, no graphic novels on QS. They are a specialty that I know nothing about.

uldbfun said...

Thanks for clearing up "FTW." I thought it was a more acceptable method of conveying something else by reversing the letters. (FTW do I know}?

Julia said...

"(if you ask a question other than about QS it won't get posted. Things like "double spaced?" or "should I mention I live in Antarctica?" are not about how QS works. You can get those asked and answered at AbsoluteWrite Check them out.)"

Damn. Never mind.

Sincerely,
Fish Food