Tuesday, April 17, 2007

How to Write a Query in 40 Simple Steps

A query is the one-page letter you send to agents and publishers pitching your novel.

1. Pour yourself a small glass of gin & tonic.
2. Sip slowly, savoring the taste, as you carefully list your novel's main characters and conflicts.
3. Struggle to label your work with the appropriate genre.
4. Pour more gin and tonic to boost brain power.
5. Craft a first sentence that both grabs the reader's attention and conveys the essence of your novel.
6. Re-read first sentence.
7. Acknowledge that first sentence is absolute crap and delete the entire thing.
8. Pour more gin and tonic, minus the tonic.
9. Skip first sentence and dive into character descriptions.
10. Re-read character descriptions.
11. Acknowledge that character descriptions cannot be three paragraphs each and delete all but a few sentences.
12. Drain gin bottle.
13. Toss in a few sentences describing the conflict.
14. Re-read sentences describing conflict.
15. Acknowledge that the conflict sounds rather weak.
16. Toss in a conflict that isn't actually in the novel but could be, if the agent asks for a partial.
17. Wander to the kitchen for more gin.
18. Wonder what idiot put that wall in your way.
19. Return to desk.
20. Re-read query.
21. Drink two swallows of gin straight from the bottle.
22. Decide that "I have a fiction novel that totally kicks Dean Koontz's sorry keister" is an acceptable first sentence.
23. Study the problem of deciding on a genre.
24. Take a few swallows of gin for fortification.
25. Realize you now see two keyboards on your desk instead of one. Choose which one to use.
26. Type madly for thirty seconds before realizing you are simply banging on your desk.
27. Swallow some gin and choose the other keyboard.
28. Decide that literary-paranormal-romantic-suspense-thriller-with-historical-sci-fi-elements is an acceptable genre for your novel.
29. Re-read query.
30. Insert adverbs generously and prolifically throughout to spice up the prose.
31. Print.
32. Spend five minutes cursing the foul beast of a computer for refusing such a simple request.
33. Turn printer on.
34. Print.
35. Sign name.
36. Realize you've misspelled your name.
37. Curse the gin.
38. Apologize to the gin.
39. Re-print, re-sign, seal in an envelope.
40. Send query.

11 comments:

  1. Oh this is too funny. I especially loved the "curse the gin, apologize to the gin" steps!

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  2. LOL!! I was laughing so hard by the end. My fav's:

    "Wonder what idiot put that wall in your way."

    "Decide that literary-paranormal-romantic-suspense-thriller-with-historical-sci-fi-elements is an acceptable genre for your novel."

    That's classic.

    ReplyDelete
  3. CJ - you are a gem! This was rofl hilarious!!

    I'm with Odd... those were my favorite lines too!

    ReplyDelete
  4. 25. Realize you now see two keyboards on your desk instead of one. Choose which one to use.
    26. Type madly for thirty seconds before realizing you are simply banging on your desk.


    OMFG CJ. *dies*

    May I have permission to reprint this (giving you full credit) on my blog tomorrow? PLEASE??

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh, my, gosh--I about fell off my chair reading this.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'd think you were watching me last week...but it was Malibu and pineapple juice, so I think I'm in the clear :)

    But I'm with Sara, I want to have a CJ day on my blog too!

    ReplyDelete
  7. 16. Toss in a conflict that isn't actually in the novel but could be, if the agent asks for a partial.

    LMAO!! This is fabulous!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hilarious! Thanks for reminding me of the humor in query writing.

    Stupid query! Stupid walls! Stupid gin--no, I didn't mean that, gin. I love you. You are the only one who understands me. Pleasedon'tleaveme.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sooooo glad to see someone finally acknowledge that it isn't five or seven steps. Hmph. And the "it could be my plot" step--that's my fave beta reader response--she didn't edit the letter but the storyline. ;)

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  10. Oh, and I couldn't click to post because (it turns out) I was stepping on the mouse cord. No gin necessary!

    ReplyDelete

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