Good news! My query is done! Cost: $50
After a slight delay, I finally hooked up with my editor/query godmother. She asked me to send her what I had. I wasn’t sure what that meant. So, I sent her a bunch of random notes and jibberish. I sent her a big pile of crap. This editor had already edited the first draft of my book, so she had some insight. This was the starting off point.
First Draft: She sent a great letter back, it was clear and concise, but it was written for a different story. I forgot to tell her that I did a lot of rewrites since the original draft. Although her query was great, the story had changed.
You must have a clear understanding of what your book is about. If you don’t, you cannot write an effective query.
First Edit: I attempted to rewrite the query using her outline with the updated story facts. I pinpointed every god forsaken “big” moment in the book. Explained why things happened. Where things went. It was long. So long. I turned my query into a synopsis. Good news is, I know how to write a synopsis.
The query should consist of 2-3 paragraphs outlining major plot points. Do not include backstory or explain character relationships in detail.
Second Draft: She sends back notes on the difference between a query and a synopsis.
A query is a brief explanation of your book. It does NOT disclose the ending. You want to hook the agent. Make him/her want to read your book.
A synopsis is an outline of your story, it can be 2-10 pages depending on the genre you write. (Fantasy requires more detailed explanation than romance.) It should disclose all major plot points, twists, and the ending. This is also an opportunity for agents to get a feel for your writing. Don’t take synopsis writing lightly!
Second Edit: I cut the synopsis down to just facts, no details, and made it a query again. A cliff notes version of the cliff notes version of the story. It’s the hook. The one line under the book at a bookstore. It’s the elevator pitch.
A query should answer the question every writer hates: What’s your book about?
Final Draft: She sent the letter back with a big “I love it!” She made no changes, it was just a matter of cleaning up typos etc… Which were many.
Please. Please. Edit your letter! If you have typos and grammar errors in a query, many agents will not even open your manuscript.
In the end, I probably wrote 90% of the letter myself, but I never would have gotten from point A to B without her help. I just needed a push or the comradery. The deadline. Volleying back and forth with her was worth every penny. It helped me put my thoughts in order and her knowledge of editing kept the letter clean and professional.
For most of us, writing is a solitary endeavor. Editing shouldn’t be.