Author Topic: CONTRADICTORY INFORMATION REGARDING QUERY LETTERS  (Read 503 times)

Offline AvidandManic

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CONTRADICTORY INFORMATION REGARDING QUERY LETTERS
« on: February 24, 2019, 11:15:10 PM »
The more I try to get the hang of query writing, the more elusive this objective becomes.

I am really confused:

1) Some people have spoken of writing a synopsis.
 
Is the synopsis:

a) a postscript or supplement to the query letter
b) is it contained within the single page that is the query letter
c) is it something that is not used in queries for most fiction

2)  I read someplace that a query letter should mention many things other than the more exciting and salient conflicts in one's book. 

I read that one should first write a paragraph  introducing oneself and noting that one is looking for an agent, also write a paragraph setting forth one's qualifications, also include a paragraph explaining why you have opted to query the particular agent the letter is being sent to and to devote just one paragraph to discussing one' story. 

But now I think perhaps I was reading the wrong stuff because I have now seen query letters which consist ENTIRELY of the escapades of the characters in the book being queried. 

So which is it:  Do I discuss a broad range of things in my query letter and only devote one paragraph toward a discussion of the material in the book or is the whole of my query letter devoted to a discussion of just the book being queried. 


Offline neverish

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Re: CONTRADICTORY INFORMATION REGARDING QUERY LETTERS
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2019, 12:19:48 AM »
The synopsis is an entirely different beast from the query letter. The synopsis is something some agents may request when you query, or after the query. It tells the whole story from beginning to end. It's longer than a query letter -- I most often see from one to two pages, but they can be longer depending on what the agent requests.

The query letter is very brief in comparison, usually consisting of two or three paragraphs, and exists to hook the reader to read your book. It doesn't need to cover every detail in the book, just to give an introduction to the main character, maybe a secondary character if necessary, and the plot. The query letter reads like the write-up on the flap of a book -- it entices but doesn't give too much away.

The Querytracker website offers some really handy resources for more information on query letters.
Query Letter Basics: https://querytracker.net/query-letter-basics.php (includes links to other articles on the topic)
Success Story Interviews: https://querytracker.net/interviews.php (often has the query itself within the interview)

Oop, also: Not all agents request a synopsis, but all agents request a query letter.

Offline mafiaking1936

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Re: CONTRADICTORY INFORMATION REGARDING QUERY LETTERS
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2019, 07:30:24 AM »
Just my own poor understanding, but my opinions are this:

1) Some people have spoken of writing a synopsis.
 
Is the synopsis:

a) a postscript or supplement to the query letter  No, it is a separate document.
b) is it contained within the single page that is the query letter  No. It is one or two pages that gives the whole story, and if they ask for it it usually comes after the query letter. You should have versions of multiple lengths for whatever the agent asks for. Edit: Some places ask for a one-paragraph synopsis as part of the query. This is unusual, but in these cases you could consider the plot portion of the query letter suitable for this type of "synopsis."
c) is it something that is not used in queries for most fiction   I'd say about 20-25% of submission guidelines ask for a synopsis, usually one page in length. In any event, you will need to write one eventually at some point in the process, no question.

2)  I read someplace that a query letter should mention many things other than the more exciting and salient conflicts in one's book.  Some, if they are relevant.

I read that one should first write a paragraph  introducing oneself and noting that one is looking for an agent, also write a paragraph setting forth one's qualifications, also include a paragraph explaining why you have opted to query the particular agent the letter is being sent to and to devote just one paragraph to discussing one' story.    Eh, maybe a paragraph's worth of all that stuff combined. It will depend on how much of that you have. A degree in underwater basket weaving probably is not relevant to your interdimensional comedy thriller, etc. They already know you're looking for an agent since they're reading your query, so no need to repeat the obvious. If you have a particular connection to an agent that led you to query, mention it. If it's just that they're next on the list, you could just say that it's because they represent the type of thing you're querying.

But now I think perhaps I was reading the wrong stuff because I have now seen query letters which consist ENTIRELY of the escapades of the characters in the book being queried.    This is one approach. A successful query is one that nets an agent, whatever the construction. But there is an average formula that is statistically most likely to generate requests for pages.

So which is it:  Do I discuss a broad range of things in my query letter and only devote one paragraph toward a discussion of the material in the book or is the whole of my query letter devoted to a discussion of just the book being queried. 

Include the parts that are relevant and be brief. Don't try to puff up a query and definitely keep the book itself the focus. Here for example is the general construction of my query, which got an offer from a [new and clientless] agent and a [small] publisher. The plot paragraphs are ~215 words, ~325 words total:

Dear [person],

Due to your interest in [genre] fiction, I'd like to query you regarding my novel manuscript: [Plot, same paragraph]
[Plot paragraph 2]
[Plot paragraph 3]

[TITLE] is a [genre] of [words] that will appeal to readers of [comp titles]. It was a finalist in [Twitter pitch events]. My short fiction has been published in [places], and other venues detailed at [author website.]

The first [requested pages and synopsis if asked for] accompany this query below. Thank you very much for your time and kind consideration.

Sincerely,

me



« Last Edit: February 25, 2019, 12:41:20 PM by mafiaking1936 »

Offline AvidandManic

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Re: CONTRADICTORY INFORMATION REGARDING QUERY LETTERS
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2019, 10:23:50 PM »
Thanks for your help