Thursday, January 3, 2013

Query is a Four Letter Word—Jennifer L. Armentrout Guest Post!


Guest Post from Jennifer L. Armentrout :)

Guest Post:

Okay, Query really isn’t a four letter word, but it ranks right up there with more widely known four letter words for authors. At least for me. Nothing makes me want to go hide in a closet faster than having to write a query, and guess what guys, getting an agent isn’t the end of queries. There are queries written for submissions to editors and they are just as scary as the one you send to agents.
Summing up a 100k book in about 150 words seems impossible. It’s not. But it’s not easy. There is blood, sweat, and buckets of tears.
During my writing career I’ve probably sent well over 150 queries. Yep. You read that correctly. Some of those queries were for agents, others for the agent to submit to editors. I’ve written a total thirteen, unique queries for different books. Each of those thirteen has been rewritten so many times I cringe to even think about it. Out of all those rewrites, there’s only one query that I’ve ever been truly proud of and that was CURSED.
Giving advice on writing queries is as scary as writing them. I don’t think there is ever one perfect way to write a query or a format guaranteed to hook an agent or an editor.  Queries are a lot like writing in general. They are like the Big Mac secret sauce of the literary world. No one really knows what makes one more successful than the other, because like everything else in writing, queries are truly subjective.  I personally think it’s a mixture of talent/skill, luck, and timing.
Since you can’t really do anything about luck and timing, here are some of the things I think helps during the query writing process.

1. Start off with your synopsis. And trust me, that sucks worse than a query, but typically you can pull a query out of a synopsis. Also, if you can’t write a synopsis for your book, you’re not going to be able to write a query. Why? Because you either don’t know your book well enough yet or there’s flaws in your book that still need to be worked out.
2. Make sure your query has your character’s voice. You query should read like your book.
3. Write your query in first person. GASP.  That was the Internet gasping at that suggestion. Keep reading. Writing your query in first person can help you get into your character’s voice. Once you have your query finished, go back and change it from first person to third person. Now the Internet can calm down. It’s a trick that’s worked for me.
4. Have unbiased, complete strangers reader your query. Not your beta partners. There are forums like Query Tracker that is a great place for this.
5. Rewrite your query until your eyes bleed. Don’t be like me and submit the very first version of the query you’ve written. It’s embarrassing.
6. Once you’ve written and rewritten your query and submitted your query, the next thing you need to do is prepare yourself for rejection because it’s going to happen. Some of the most popular writers have been rejected dozens and dozens of times. It’s just the nature of the process.

Queries are hard, but they’re not impossible. Just like writing a book, practice does make perfect.

Thank you to Jennifer! She's a super amazing author and I'm glad she could make some time to make this post for me and my readers!

About Jennifer L. Armentrout:

USA TODAY BESTSELLING Author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you've heard about her state aren't true. When she's not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russel Loki. Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories....which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She also writes adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is the author of the COVENANT Series (Spencer Hill Press), the LUX Series (Entangled Publishing), and the upcoming YA contemporary mystery/thrillers DON'T LOOK BACK (Disney/Hyperion Spring 2014) and yet untitled book (Disney/Hyperion tentative Fall 2014).

About Opal:

No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well... There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different... And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we’re stronger... and they know it.

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