Sunday, December 8, 2013

New strategy at QueryShark

I had a blinding moment of inspiration this week, prompted by the query letter posted at #252. Here's how it happened and what it means for QueryShark readers and writers.

As some of you know, I run the ChumBucket Query Experiment for writers querying me for real. I really loved doing that when I was open to queries; the interaction was fun and instructive for both the writer and for me.

Some of you might remember a blog post I did about assembling a book shelf.  That bookshelf led to the QueryQuestion.  (As a side note, that book shelf did not survive the month-long paint job I'm embroiled in. When I tried to move it, the thing collapsed in exhaustion, had to be ripped apart and send to the curb for New York's Strongest to remove in their smoking belching rolling pits of fire)

Thus it was when I received the query that became #252 and the note from the writer after the query that I had blinding moment of inspiration.

What if, along with the query, writers could ask questions or offer explanations for the choices they were making when they sent material to QueryShark?  Wouldn't that be more helpful than "this doesn't work, start again?"

And then I remembered the knock down drag out fights that we (we means my authors and I) have had with copy editors recently.  Copy editors are an invaluable resource and publishing would be very much poorer without them, but their mission is not style it's correctness. Thus when a writer breaks rules for style, the copy editor often has to be alerted, or soothed, or vanquished depending on the ferocity of their red pen.

That made me wonder if I was perhaps doing much the same thing here at QS: assuming error when it was a style choice.


So, let's try something new and improved and see if it helps.

Starting now, you should send a BRIEF paragraph with questions, or explanations of choices, along with your query shark entry.  You still must include the permission line as well.

If your QueryShark entry had an Order of Service it would look like this:

1. Permission line: 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.

2. Question/explanation paragraph of NO MORE THAN 100 words.

3. Query

The order is important.  I want to know what you're asking before I read your query.


The first query with this is posted at #252. 


JeffO said...

A great idea, and I hope it works out for everyone. And thank you for what you do for writers everywhere.

remedypeter said...

LOVE the new concept, QS. Thank you for this because it gives us insight into the thoughts behind the query.

Rachel6 said...

This reminds me of Janice Hardy's critique posts: she allows writers to send in 250 words with specific questions, and she critiques the piece to answer those questions. I've seen everything from "does this work?" to "do you like the protagonist enough to keep reading?"

I think it's an excellent idea, and brava to you for implementing it!

Lara said...

Roh-Roh! I just sent in a revision to my "revise and resubmit" query. Should I fix it to include the new format or ??? Sorry to ask this lame question, but I love your blog and have learned so much from just the comments (yours and others).

azarrising said...

Does this mean queries that were previously submitted under the previous format should be resubmitted?

S B Hadley Wilson said...

This is a very good idea. It might even help writers answer their own questions and improve their queries prior to submitting to you and others.

french sojourn said...

I know most of my comments are comedic in's just who I am...but this is so helpful. I want to submit...when it's time; a query in a Maine accent...although the story is not told in one.

Cool...very cool...and so helpful. I imagine you cringing as you read this.

Cheers Hank

Theresa Milstein said...

I just read #252, and I like the new style of hearing from both querier and Shark.

Terri Lynn Coop said...

Awesome Query Shark is awesome.

Sometimes I sense the writer is swinging for the fences, ala the query for "Premediated." If they fall short, this will be one time when the backstory may be the most interesting part.


Unknown said...

ditto Alex Azar

lala11 said...

Omg. The title followed by AIIIIIIEE! cracked me up so much. I have a feeling I need to work on my own title!

Jenn M said...

As somebody who has poured over this blog for countless hours (and now fully revised their query for the thousandth time because of it), I want to thank you. I am so grateful I found this blog and cannot express how much your sharing your time and expertise has helped. I know this sounds like I'm brown-nosing, and perhaps I am, but the sentiment is genuine. I thought my former query was perfection and couldn't comprehend how I was getting form rejections, or more commonly, no response at all. Now, I've read all the information here, and know why. In fact, I'm embarrassed by what I sent out in the past and have new hope for the future of my project. So, thank you. Your willingness to also entertain questions/comments at the onset of the query is even more gracious than I ever could have hoped for. Thanks again!