It wasn’t until I finished my first MS, and considered trying to get publication that I realized how much work goes into trying to publish. For those of you who think writing is hard, just wait until you get to the next step.
First of all, it’s not enough to have written a great book; you also have to be able to market it well, because finding a literary agent is all about selling your story. Lucky for us writers, we already have the language skills to make this feasible, but as it turns out there is format and procedure to getting it done right. Namely, the Query.
The query is a letter you write to potential agents about your book in order to sell them on it. It is important to note that a query is not a synopsis, nor is it a book report, nor is it a pleading letter of desperation. (That last part is especially important to remember.) The easiest way to think of a query is as the “trailer” for your book. Think of how movie trailers are presented. Immediately, there is intrigue. You get a quick shot of the main character, then another quick shot of the conflict they will encounter. There aren’t long scenes that explain the plot in detail. Instead, you just get quick vignettes that leave you wanting more. This is what your query should do. It should raise enough questions in the readers mind to want them to give your MS a look.
Because of the importance of the formatting, you will need lots of eyes to look at this. And the best place to go for that is other writers, hopefully most who have written a query and with any luck, a few who have gotten an agent based on their query. Believe me; it is helpful. When I was working on my own, I got my help through a website called AQConnect, a derivative website from Agent Query which I’ve written on before. This is a forum website which, if used appropriately, can be infinitely helpful in writing your query. After several months, I was able to get mine down to the point that I felt confident sending it out. Unfortunately, I decided shortly after that that the book was not ready for submission. Regardless of whether or not I choose to ever use that particular query to get that book published, I now feel confident in my understanding of the writing and the point of the query.