Wednesday, March 28, 2007

How Query Shark works

Query Shark critiques fiction queries. You have to send a query to the shark for it to be considered. There is a checklist for how to do that on the post labeled "If You Want Your Query Posted, Read and FOLLOW These Directions"

Queries are acknowledged IF THEY FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS. This can take several days if the QueryShark is swimming about in the Sea of Writing Conferences.

If you have not followed the directions, or if it's immediately clear you have not read the archives your query is discarded.

Not all queries will be critiqued.

Your chance to be critiqued improves if you aren't making the same mistakes the Shark has ranted about commented on previously.

To make new and fresh mistakes, carefully read the query letters and comments already on the blog.

You will have the opportunity to revise your query after the Shark bites, and have it critiqued again. Many of the people who do that get substantially better.

The right side of the blog roll shows recently revised queries, and queries that got to YES ie requests to read the manuscript.

QueryShark is entirely volunteer. No queries are posted unless the writer specifically asks the QueryShark to do so.

There are no rejections. If your query is not posted within about 120 days, it probably won't be.
This can happen for several reasons: you didn't make any really good mistakes; you made the same mistakes everyone else made; it was so bad I didn't know where to start. Pick the reason that makes you feel best, because that's the real reason.

16 comments:

SouthavenMom said...

Dear Query Shark:

I just wanted to comment on your professionalism. I sent you an "official" query and you responded very quickly. Your "form" rejection was encouraging and positive. I suspect that I received such a quick reply because I sent the query to Query Shark ahead of time, but it did not make your board and when you received the query you already knew what you would do. However, when so many agents do not deign to respond to their rejections, you take the time to at least hit the send button. That in and of itself puts you heads and shoulders above so many of the others.

I am a college professor by trade. I will be until I retire. The book was a foray into something unknown. I already have many followers and the book will be published, if not through an agent, then through self publishing. I have started a sequel at the request of people who have already read the book and that is enough of a positive response for me. The writing is relaxing, the characters speak to me, and I just write their story on the pages.

Thank you for your encouragement, even though it was just a form rejection. You show a lot of class! Keep doing what you are doing. The publishing industry needs more people like you.

Kindest regards,

Linnea Hall

MidnightMerry said...

Looking at the short list of reasons for not posting a query, all indicate the sender should endeavor to make mistakes. What happens if a query letter meets your every positive expectation first time around?

Robert said...

Dear Query Shark:

I found your blog three days ago. So far I've read back to post 68, and am plugging on to reach the start. I can hardly believe how helpful you've been already.

You'll receive my query in 1 - 3 weeks, when I've finished reading everything, stewed, and revised.

Sincerely,

Robert Sier

EM said...

It's over.

I have read the entire blog.

Now I have to return back to my query and "pare" it down. Your candid voice is so elegantly written that I find it extremely inspiring. I have laughed out loud several times. Thank you for all the advice.

Oh wait. Let me "re-punctuate":

Thank you for all the advice!! I will soon walk the plank.

Y. said...

Dear Query Shark:

I was guided to your blog today and have, so far, only read 2 posts. I got distracted by the "How to..." on the right.

I'd like to know (and please ignore my ignorance) whether it is entirely essential to have a completed manuscript before sending you a query. I have not yet completed my 'book-to-be', but I'd like to be able to hone my query-writing capabilities at the first possible moment.

Thank you,

Y.

Rane said...

Dear QS:

I've read every single query and revision on this blog! In fact, I look forward to reading new blogs as much as I look forward to watching new episodes of my favorite TV show. It's boot camp for query writers.

Now I can imagine how tedious the task of reading 200 queries (or more!) can be for agents. I find myself rolling my eyes and having my "this is where I'd stop reading" moments, too. Hopefully it's an indication that I have the necessary knowledge to help me create an enticing query.

To our instructing agent (and other agents, too!), thank you for sifting through all the junk to find some really great novels that are available to us today.

To the query writers on this blog, thank you for making your letters the guinea pigs. I understand they are a work-in-progress, and I wish you good luck in your quest for an agent.

Rane Anderson

Mike said...

Hi QS. I've pored through so many of your examples but haven't been able to find an answer to this (although it must be in there): For a full-length novel query, do you advise mention of previously published short stories? What about non-fiction magazine articles? To me it seems relevant but.... Thanks.

Delany said...

I don't undertant the relevancy of adding contact information at the bottom if it's not going to be utilized, so I didn't. I know you said it's "to get in the habit", but I'm a little paranoid about giving out personal info...Will that kind of thing prevent my query from getting posted here on QS? Sorry for the inconvenience...

Janet Reid said...

Delaney, no it won't keep your query from being critiqued.

If you're concerned about giving out personal info in a query, remember that in more than one instance, I've needed that info to track down an author to request more of the manuscript.

Honest to godiva, I don't care if yo live on Hotlips Lane in Sweet Ass Arkansas, I just want to be able to reach you.

Leslie said...

Dear Query Shark,
I have just come across your blog and I am encouraged by the response from your readers. I have revised my query several times, and my recent rejection was for no hook. I will go through your site for information and may be submitting a query for review.
Thanks for being a voice for those of us the need some direction.

Michelle Moloney King said...

I surfed the web and found you, you little writerly rock star! I still have so much reading to do of the archives, and polishing of the book, before I send you my query.

Thank you.

Beir Bua
Michelle

Hope Welsh said...

Dear Query Shark

I just found your blog a few days ago. I've spent hours reading them all.

The information here is just fantastic--even for those of us that self-publish their work.

The time you invest in this blog surely is appreciated by all the writers out there either seeking representation or simply to improve their writing.

I'm definitely adding you to my list of blogs to follow.

Thanks for taking the time to help us all improve.

I've even discovered some new authors out there from your blog that I want to read.

Lori said...

Chomp away, as I know this is probably stupid. "Read the Archives" is a rule stated over and over. I started at the bottom of the list called "Archives" and found no queries, shredded or perfect; I just found a lot of comments about QueryShark's wonderfulness (and having seen the front page, with the multiple revisions, I agree with them all!). So, um, where do the archives with queries start? Should I just look at the list that seems to be about queries?

Janet Reid said...

The first query shark critique is April 2008. It's labeled #1. If you look in the list of previous posts you'll find it.

Iandriel Isenthor said...

I just started reading and I find it rather fascinating and helpful. I do appreciate what you have done for all of us curious on why and how to craft a great query letter.

My one question is; are you will to shark synopsis if given to you?

Unknown said...

So, I'm starting reading as per your imperative. LIke a previous comment I went straight to the archives of blog posts. And your subsequent (gratefully acknowleged) comment has spared that swim up the wrong canal.

Looking forward to the chum bucket results - any chance of you posting the query(ies) you did like, please?