|Photo credit: Frederic Guillory on Flickr|
Most writers are not enormous fans of the query letter writing stage—in fact, many writers have no problem admitting that it’s on the lower end of enjoyable things to write.
Writing a good query involves summarizing your book into a couple paragraphs in a way that makes others have a good understanding of your story and want to read more, while also making your book stand out. It also involves accurately reflecting the tone of your book, giving away enough so that readers understand the main idea of your novel without giving away too much, and writing it in a way that flows.
In short: query letters are hard.
Good news, is there is a way to improve your query and get valuable insight into how to improve it, and it’s called a critique.
The nice thing about query critiques is that they don’t take a huge commitment. Writers can trade three or four drafts of their critiques over the course of a couple days, versus trading 60-100k word manuscripts over the course of a month.
But like beta-reading and manuscript-swapping, query critiques are enormously helpful, because they allow you to get outside feedback before industry professionals start looking at it critically.
Because the truth is this: the query is the first impression industry professionals have of your work, and if you don’t polish it as well as you did your book, it won’t matter how much you edited, or how beautiful your writing is, because many professionals won’t get to your actual pages. Your query has to make your book stand out and shine, or you’re likely to get rejections regardless of how well-written your book is.
Query letters aren’t easy to get right, but if you trade query critiques with other writers, not only will you get valuable feedback on how to improve your letter, but you’ll also begin to develop an understanding for what works and what doesn’t in a query.
It’s a win-win, and it’s a step that you definitely don’t want to skip.
Have you ever critiqued a query or had your query critiqued? What was your experience like?