Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How to submit a query to the QueryShark blog

1. Read the queries already posted on the blog. Read them ALL.

The reason you must do this is if you send a query that has basic mistakes I'll just toss your query.

What are basic mistakes?
Here are just three:

Rhetorical questions.
Starting with "synopsis"
Putting your address or my address above the salutation.

2.  Your query should be around 250 words.

3. Send it to me at QueryShark at gmail.com

4. You'll get an auto-reply saying your query was received pretty promptly.  This does NOT mean your query will be considered.

Post to the comment column here and I'll do my best to answer them.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

How to get your query letter discarded from the queue

Dear Ms. Reid,

Love, love, love.....did I say love.....the Query Shark site! I sent you my query letter and although I know you have many, many to review....so I don’t mean to bug you but I would really respect your feedback to my query letter....you are always spot on with your comments. The query letter was for (redacted) Even if you don’t post it on your site, even just having a little bit of your feedback would mean so much.

As the punch line in the movie Misery said............from your number 1 fan!


This is one fast way to NEVER get your query posted on the blog.

I get that you want feedback. I run this site to provide it. Under NO circumstances will I provide private coaching. Sending emails asking for that, even in the most laudatory terms and couched in compliments annoy the fins off me.

And honest to god, quoting Annie Wilkes can be interpreted in several different ways, none of them to your benefit, and at least one requiring a call to the gendarmes.

What you haven't stopped to realize is that IF your query gets posted, you get to revise. Which means an ongoing email communication with me.  Stepping over the line this early doesn't reassure me that you'll be someone I want to talk to on an ongoing basis. In other words, you've just given me a very potent reason to NEVER post your query.

If you didn't realize you've crossed the line, no harm no foul. But there is a line.  Stay on your side. The other side is shark-infested.

What to do if your query isn't picked for posting

Generally queries are posted within 90 days of receipt.

If yours isn't posted, it's not because it was "too awful" or "too boring" or any of those other things your malevolent subconscious is whispering.

I get more queries than I can post. That's all.

You can resend your entry. CAREFULLY study the queries posted after you sent yours.  Revise your query based on the things you learned from the more recent queries.  Send again.

Do NOT mark "resubmission" or "second try" or anything that says it's a second submission. Just send it like you did the first one.

You can do this as often as you want but if your query isn't selected after a couple tries, it probably won't be.

Thanks for being my chum.

How comments work

Comments are moderated.

Comments akin to "this sux" or "holy crap, this can only get better" are not posted.

Comments that give incorrect information are not posted.

QueryShark participants are here for suggestions that will help improve their queries. If your comment doesn't do that, it's not posted.

Comments that disagree with the Shark's opinion are usually posted. Exceptions are bonehead statements that annoy me.

A word about revisions to your QueryShark post

1. You can send revisions after your query is posted, but you must wait a week to do so.

2. Your revised query will be posted on my schedule. I will try to post a note saying your query is down for revisions.

3. There's a limit to how many revisions I'll do, particularly if you aren't getting better.

4. If you write to ask when your revisions will be posted I'll reply. It can take awhile; this isn't even my hobby let alone my job.

5. If you post a comment on another entry asking about your revisions; if you send an email scolding me for being slow, I will remove the entire post and the revisions.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Checklist for submitting work to the Shark

BEFORE you send your query to the Shark do these things:

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
b. title
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.

Recent examples:
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:

fiction query "Query Shark: I promise I read the archives thoroughly";
query for Janet Reid "Query Shark: I promise I read the archives thoroughly";
Query Shark: I promise I read the archives thoroughly." fiction 78K words/historical/romantic/thriller.

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.

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

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.