1. Read all the entries on the blog (aka the archives)
2. Make notes on what you read that you did not know.
3. Revise your query using the notes.
4. Let the query sit for a week.
5. Revise again.
If you just send your query without doing this, you'll make the exact mistakes I've already talked about on the blog and that reduces the chance your query will be selected.
6. make sure you include:
a. word count
c. contact info (I redact but get in the habit of including it)
7. Is your query for non-fiction, or memoir? If so, don't send. I'll just email you saying I don't post those kinds of queries on QS.
8. Make sure you don't send a big chunk of text. White space. White space. White space.
If you cut and paste from a Word doc into an email, the spaces do NOT transfer. You must type your query into your email program directly. Insert a blank line about every three or four lines (break paragraphs but not sentences)
Do not send your query letter as an attachment. I will discard those unread, and unacknowledged.
9. Include this phrase at the top of your letter: "By submitting this query, I agree it may be posted and critiqued on the QueryShark blog and included in the archives for the life of the blog."
10. After you've read and followed these directions you'll know to put "Query Shark: I promise I read the archives thoroughly" in the subject line. If you fail to include this, your query will be discarded. If you put something OTHER than "Query Shark: I promise I read the archives thoroughly" in the subject line, you will annoy me so much I will be tempted to discard your letter.
fiction query "Query Shark: I promise I read the archives thoroughly";
query for Janet Reid "I promise I read the archives thoroughly";
Query Shark: I promise I read the archives thoroughly" fiction 78K words/historical/romantic/thriller.
All these examples are WRONG. This is not a trick. It's not a spelling test or a capitalization test.
Here's what should have been in each of the subject lines:
Query Shark: I promise I read the archives thoroughly."
Get the idea?
IF you just write that, and haven't read the archives to avoid mistakes I've commented on a LOT, your query has zero chance of being posted.
10a. If it's clear you haven't implemented some of the most obvious edits (for example, you put your address, or mine, at the top of the email) it annoys me so much I just delete your email and don't send it to the chum bucket.
11. When you send an email to the Shark, you will get an acknowledgement. This can take several days if the QueryShark is swimming in the Sea of Writing Conferences or the Ocean of Time Off For Good Behaviour. If you do not get a reply within a week, see #10 and #10a. If you've made those mistakes, you can fix them, and email me again.
12. As of 12/8/13 you can now include a paragraph at the TOP of your query that asks questions about the query, or explains the choices you've made. This paragraph should be as cogent as your query, and 100 words or fewer. Here's the blog post about that.
It's harder to get a query posted on QueryShark than to get a request for a full, just FYI. In the course of a year I've read more than 200 fulls, and only posted 151 queries here at QueryShark.
The value of QueryShark is seeing what OTHER people have done and applying it to your work.
Where to send: QueryShark at gmail dot com