Thursday, January 8, 2009

Query Letters - What's Your Opinion?

Today's forecast for St. Peters: Mostly sunny, high 31 degrees, partly cloudy this evening.
I'm glad it's not supposed to snow tonight because we're going to see Disney on Ice at the Scott Trade Center. (I won free tickets, Yay!)

Now, on to query letters.

There's a discussion on two agents' blogs--Kristen Nelson's Pub Rants and Nathan Bransford's blogspot--about query letters. Kristen's site shares a successful query letter from one of her writers. That same writer has posted on her blog the query letter in the original version and revisions written with the help of someone else--along with the reasons for the suggested changes. The final version is what led to a book deal. I found it enlightening to read all of the versions to see the changes and what worked and what didn't.

Someone on Nathan's asked how he felt about it. The debate centers on the ethics? of having someone other than the writer compose your query letter, or writing a query letter "by committee" in a critique group. There are more than 130 posts on Nathan's blog, so there are some strong opinions on both sides.

Because I belong to a critique group and know how helpful they can be, I think it's a good strategy to run a query by a critique group (or a trusted reader) before submitting it to an agent or editor. In fact, several members of critique groups I've belong to have done just that before sending out their queries (or synopses).

But . . . while getting advice and suggestions from others, such as members of a critique group, can be helpful, I advise writers to be prudent about which advice they use. The bottom line is: the writer should "own" his query letter, and it should reflect the writer's voice so the agent or publisher knows what to expect in the book.

Anyone care to share an opinion on this?


  1. Yea for free tix to Disney on Ice. A friend of mine from OFallon is going, too. Those days will be coming soon in my future. Glad you liked the story.

  2. I just read The Kite Runner and Hosseini acknowledges his critique group for the success of the book. That's the first time I saw a writing group credited, but I'm sure those groups help so many published authors.

  3. Hi Camille,
    Thanks for visiting.
    The seats for Disney on Ice were great. The kiddos had a great time, but it was a late night and they were moving a bit slow this morning.
    About critique groups: It's good to hear a critique group acknowledged by a best-selling wuthor. My experience has been finding the right fit for a group is very important.


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