Gearing Up for Query Writing

Gearing Up for Query Writing

Major editing for Roots of Ash is coming to a close. I say that even while acknowledging that I have about ten chapters left to review (over 150 pages). But it feels like I’m approaching the end after a long (looooooong) editing process. There have been serious doubts and insecurities, revelations and twists, and slow unwinding burns that have carved and polished this book into something like a final form.

I’ll finish up this round of edits and then submit the manuscript to beta readers. With their feedback, I’ll apply a quick polish (hahaha-we’ll see). By June, I’ll be turning my attention to drafting my query letter.

My fellow writer-in-arms is familiar with the process of query writing, but I have never written one, aside from the thesis proposal I drafted to apply for the English Honors Thesis program at Hollins. Thankfully, I can rely on Megan’s experience with this task and the resources she’s trudged up for her own research.

One of those resources is the website/blog Query Shark. The byline says it all: “How To Write Query Letters … or, really, how to revise query letters so they actually work.” The blog is written by Janet Reid, a literary agent (she has her own separate website) with a pretty great sense of humor.  Reading her notes and corrections is almost like being scolded by a demanding teacher you know is tough because they want you to succeed: comforting, inspiring, and somewhat shame-inducing all at the same time.

I’m still reading through 2015 queries (she advises you read through all of the queries and responses posted on the website–yes, all of them. She’ll know if you didn’t read through them and then submit a query to her, because she’ll likely have already answered your question). So it’s going to be a process, but also a good investment. It’s also uplifting–through all the snappy and somewhat sarcastic comments, Query Shark is inherently a positive and encouraging persona.

For any writers looking around for more support on query writing, I would definitely recommend this site. Even if you’re not at this stage, this is good reading material when you want something quick to digest. The effort has already started to yield fruit for me–all the questions about series notes in the queries she’s addressed prompted me to think about my own planned series…and how I really had no idea what happens to my characters after Roots of Ash. Over the weekend, I translated these thoughts into some really vivid, though still bare-boned ideas for Sarria’s next steps. I also discovered more binding threads between characters in the first book that become critical to developing conflict. Overall, it was an enthusiastic and delightful exercise that had me falling in love all over again with this stage of writing: brainstorming a new first draft.

Image result for falling in love with writing

P.S. In searching for a funny comic to end this post, I ran across this quote. It resonated with me, so I wanted to share it. But I didn’t want to share something from a stranger, so I googled Nayyirah Waheed. And though I still really have no idea who she is, even after visiting her main website and her amazon page for her poetry book Salt, I’m strangely compelled. I would say this is a good marketing example in favor of minimalism. If you do look up her book on amazon, the cover does load immediately. Take a second look.

Seriously. This book is now in my Amazon wish list.

Yes, I am a slave to mystery.

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