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Monday, August 23, 2010

What You Need to Query

Ahhh querying. Sometimes pressing send can be as scary as jumping into the pits of Tartarus. But before you start sending out those letters, what do you need to have first?

# 1: A completed manuscript. This is the most important. Your story needs to be fully written and polished within an inch of it's life. It should've been revised and edited until it shone like a new penny, and read by at least one other person that gave a complete and honest critique. Don't be the person that queries before the story is done and then has to do a quick edit on it. Rushed editing does not make a polished novel.

# 2: A polished query. This will be the first correspondence you have with potential agents, so treat it like you treated your manuscript. Don't just dash it off in five seconds and hit send. A lot of people will write this at the same time as the novel, perhaps having a first draft query before the novel is even started. I usually wait until I'm about halfway done before I start, but to each their own. Write the first draft. Let it simmer. Revise. Try to see it from an agent's point of view. Revise. Share with a few people. Revise. Make sure it really shines.

# 3: A solid synopsis. Coming for experience, write the synopsis before you query. You don't want to end up like me, writing a synopsis as fast as I can because an agent just requested it. There are also more and more agents requesting a synopsis along with the query. So even though the synopsis might be scary, it's a good idea to have it written and polished before you hit send on that query. Just in case.

Once these three things are done, you're ready to start building your list of potential agents, crossing your fingers, and hitting Send.

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