Silly Rabbit, Queries Aren’t for Kids

I’m no where near ready to query my current WIPs (either of them), but I am no stranger to the whole query process. I had a young adult fantasy that I tried querying last year. I had a couple of partial requests, but I realized after sending out about 15 queries that the book just wasn’t ready. And probably never would be.

But I have some friends getting ready to query, and I’m always interested to read what agents and other writers have to say about the process. Adventures in Children’s Publishing had a post about what agents *don’t* want in queries which I thought was interesting. This whole business is so subjective that what one agent wants, another one hates. What’s a writer to do?
Well, I think Elena summed it up quite nicely in her Getting to 100% post.

To quote:
I research my brains out. I know what queries should be. I know what writing should be. I know, I know, I know. And then I pick and choose which rules I’m going to follow. The big ones? Yeah, I follow (most of) those. The little ones? Whatever.

Write the best damn query you can, and then send it off into the world. If I’ve learned anything from the query critiques on agent websites or the agent for a day that Nathan Bransford does, only a small percent of the queries that get sent are even professional enough to be considered. And I think all of us have done enough research and care enough about what we send out into the world to send the very best.

All this talk of writing queries and following rules doesn’t really help when you’re sweating blood to get the thing drafted in the first place. But I think there comes a time where you know it’s the best you’re going to get and there’s nothing to do but face the terrifying R word and submit.

I found it interesting that one of the interns at the BookEnds Agency posted this.

In it she says: …she sees a great deal of writing that is inadequate and sub-par. When something even marginally resembles the work of a professional author, she’s going to sing its praises. Her face is going to light up with glee. It’s the best she’s seen in a long time!

I think sometimes we forget that despite the odds, despite how difficult it is to find an agent or get a publishing contract, those of us who have done the research and are professional in our letters and behavior are actually in the minority. Agents have to deal with a lot of poorly written crap, writers who’ve never written a business letter in their lives, or acted in a professional manner.

So basically, write the best book you can, polish those queries if you’re ready, and remember that even if you don’t get an agent or contract with this one, you’re still making a good impression, still one step closer to making it in this business and having a long, professional career.


  1. Great advice! I agree, we have to do the very best we can. The rest has to do with determination and a little luck!

  2. First of all–new follower! *waves*

    I found you through Elana's blog (hope you don't mind) and since I love connecting with other writers I had to come follow–in, um, the NON stalkerish sense of the term. πŸ™‚

    I think professionalism. polish, and going with your gut are all part of the querying process. My query was a little untraditional, and a tad on the long side, but it worked. Sure, it got rejections. But it also got me an offer of rep so it's all about finding the right agent for you, I guess. Though I'm hardly an expert. I actually only queried for two weeks, so I really have no idea what I'm talking about. πŸ™‚

    Great post! And I look forward to getting to know you better through your posts!

  3. Hi Shannon! Welcome! I'm glad you found my blog πŸ™‚ I love meeting other writers too!

    That's great to hear that your query was non-traditional – and only took two weeks! Wow. I think you must have the query mojo πŸ™‚ Maybe you chould post it on your blog some day and give the rest of us hope!

    I bought Elana's Query ebook, so I'm hoping that helps when it comes time to draft. *shudder*

  4. Query Girl – I think luck is the key too! Sometimes it's just sending the right query at the right time to the right person πŸ™‚

  5. So true! What could be a better mantra than "Write the best damn book you can!" Love it! πŸ™‚

  6. Querying is probably the hardest part of the whole process–especially when you start learning what you need to do in order to have a successful query. And then you realize that what's "successful" to one agent is a stinker to another.

    Don't you just love the publishing world? *grin*

    Great post, Gill! Pretty much summed up my entire experience.

  7. Great post! Query writing is hard, but it's essential to have a fantastic novel to back it up!

    Nice blog!