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.
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