View Full Version : Another Bit of Query Etiquette

05-01-2009, 03:06 AM
I've been sending out queries, and following submission guidelines. However, as you can see from my sig, I haven't had much luck. I think my query is good, but I think my book is better. The only positive responses I've gotten (is there a positive rejection? Well, if it isn't a form rejection, but a personal one... I'd like to think so) come from when I've sent along my synopsis and the first few chapters.

So, my question is, if the agent says "query only", and I send the query plus a short synopsis (1-2 pages), would I be a big jerk?

How about a query plus a short synopsis and the first five pages? Would I be an even bigger jerk?

05-01-2009, 03:13 AM
Don't push the submission guidelines. Send what an agent asks for - not more, not less.

But, here's the thing...I don't want to sound harsh, but when you write something, you have to revise. You have to check yourself, then double check it, then check it again. Once it's as perfect as you can make it, get a beta reader (or three) to read it (and here's the hard part) then listen to what they have to say. You had a pretty huge typo in the thread title, for example, that--had you been submitting a piece of writing to me--would have ensured that I didn't even open the email, frankly.

Have you worked your query that carefully? Have you looked for feedback from non-agents about the query?

05-01-2009, 03:25 AM
Ha. It's funny, really. I sent out about a dozen queries before I found AW. I thought it was awesome.

It was crap.

Now the query is good, but there's something turning the agents away in it. It might be just not the right time for my kind of High Fantasy. Whatever. But I still think my story's good. I have a couple beta readers and am currently holding off querying more until I make some of their suggested changes--including chopping a whole chapter and totally rewriting the first few chapters. I'm not afraid of changing things. Nor am I scared of criticism. I embrace it, actually.

And I couldn't find the right spelling of etiquite. However the heck it's spelled. I apologize for that. I was just copying another poster on the board. I am really MUCH more careful with my writing. I would have, for instance, looked up the word had it been directly related to my book.

But, in answer to my question, I would be a big jerk by sending a short synopsis along with the query?

05-01-2009, 03:36 AM
How short is short? If it's extra material, not part of the query letter itself, when the agent has specified they ONLY want the query letter, then yes. It's being a jerk. If it's the hook/summation you should be including as a part of your query, anyway, then it's just part of writing a good query. If you're attaching files or pages that the agent did not ask for, then you're a jerk.

Have you looked at query letters that work?

Pub Rants (http://pubrants.blogspot.com/) has queries that resulted in sales, linked in the sidebar.
Query Shark (http://queryshark.blogspot.com/) is another terrific resource to help figure out why your query might be falling flat.
Of course, Nathan Bransford's (http://nathanbransford.blogspot.com/) recent Agent for a Day contest was tremendously educational, as well.

05-01-2009, 03:41 AM
If you really want to send out queries with pages/synopsis, and you're worried about trying to sneak pages/synopsis by agents who don't want them, wouldn't it be more effective to target agents who actually want pages/synopsis?

05-01-2009, 03:58 AM
Basically if you send them something they didn't specifically ask for, they see it as not being able to follow direction. Which would raise a HUGE red flag and they probably would not even look at it. Half the success of querying is to actually send what they ask for.

05-01-2009, 04:18 AM
If your partials and fulls are getting rejected, it is your book.

If it is your query that is getting rejected, it is probably your query.

Have you already posted your query in SYW? I posted mine there and got lots of help. Link it here and I'll read it for you.

05-01-2009, 04:20 AM
If the agent says, "query only", then send the query only. If they don't specify, tack the pages on (in the body of the email if it's an equery) and put a mention of it at the end of your query.

"I have included _____ pages (or an introduction to_____) and can send additional chapters or the full manuscript upon request."

05-01-2009, 01:51 PM
Thanks. Thanks to all. Just what I was looking for.

Yes, I sent my query through QH. It is better now than it was.

No, I haven't been sending stuff that wasn't asked for. I've been following guidelines and getting rejections--I wasn't going to do it unless it was one of those unwritten rules that somehow everyone but me seems to know about.

As far as my rejections thus far, I think my query had the most to do with this. I've only sent out a few of the newest query. I stopped because I'm reworking the book again.

Again, thanks for the help.

05-01-2009, 02:27 PM
What Cyia said. There's a world of difference between "query" and "query only".

05-01-2009, 04:42 PM
I myself am a bastard. I always included the first five pages in equeries, even if the agent said "Query only." I did not want to miss an opportunity to get my writing in front of the agent, even for the ten seconds it took them to scan my query. I also queried agents that were closed to queries. In my opinion, good writing trumps all. Even the rudeness of bastards like myself.

Henri Bauholz
05-09-2009, 09:59 AM
I sometimes send a few pages (the first ones) from the story and paste it right into an e-mail. Definitely no attachments and many agents think a synopsis is a waste of time. By the way one of the more popular blogging agents, Nathan Bransford is in agreement with both these ideas. Check his blog. There is lots of good info on it.