Nicole J Simms/ August 23, 2020/ Blog/ 0 comments

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On Wednesday 29th July 2020, I watched Reedsy’s Live Query Letter Critique, which was broadcasted on Reedy’s YouTube channel.

Jon Darga was offering critiques of query letters submitted by viewers. Jon is a literary agent and a freelance editor. And, he once worked as an editor at Random House.

Before Jon started the critiques, we were given a brief definition of what a query letter is: a query letter isn’t a synopsis; it’s like the blurb at the back of the book. And your query letter should give a literary agent (the person you will be querying) the same experience a reader would get from reading a book blurb — you want to intrigue them.

With the introduction done, it was time to review a query. Jon hadn’t seen any of these queries before, so he was instantly judging them — I feel this gave us a more realistic response.

A query letter was displayed one at a time, and Jon read it out aloud. He then took a moment to consider what he had read, and then he offered his thoughts on the query. The query feedback was fair and balanced — no one’s work was torn to shreds. He also offered tips on how to write a good query letter, using the submitted queries as examples.

Here are the tips that I found the most useful:

  • An adjective before a character’s name can give away a bit more information about the character without having to use too many words.
  • You don’t need to set the scene. You should just get straight into the story.
  • If you can find a book by one of the authors the agent (you are querying) already represents to use as a comp title, you’ll show that you have done your research and could be a perfect fit for that agent.
  • Make sure you keep the blurb part of your query as a blurb, don’t let it turn into a synopsis — only mention the key points.
  • If your book is part of a series, you should say your book has series potential instead of saying your book is part of a 5-book series. Sometimes if the first book in a series doesn’t do so well, the publisher is unlikely to publish any more in that series. So the above statement shows you understand how publishing works.
  • The first line of your query should be as gripping as the opening line in your story.
  • You can use TV shows, movies, plays, etc. for one of your comp titles.

Of course, Jon shared a lot more useful tips and advice, so I suggest you watch the video.

I’ve learned a lot from watching this query critique video. And I’m looking forward to seeing more Reedsy videos and webinars.

Are you writing a query letter? Have you watched this Reedsy’s Live Query Letter Critique? Let me know in the comment box below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Stay safe and keep writing, folks!

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