Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Blog Alert - The Top Ten Query Mistakes - Rachelle Gardner

Blog Alert - The Top Ten Query Mistakes - Rachelle Gardner

For writers who seek traditional publication, one thing that can cause them to freeze like a deer in the headlights is the dreaded query letter. Most publishers, especially the major houses, no longer accept submissions form writers not represented by a literary agent. As these agents receive MANY more submissions than they can accept, the process of finding an agent to represent a writer's project is fraught with difficulties - not the least of which is the inevitable rejection letter(s). These can be emotionally traumatic - even heartbreaking - especially for a new and hopeful writer. The initial approach of an aspiring novelist to an agent has become formalized as the "query letter" or simp[ly "query".

Badly written queries have been more the rule than the exception and until recently, the options of the agent have been to curse, to laugh (sometimes with friends, over drinks), or to cry. (Rejecting the badly presented query goes without saying - that's not an "option" - it's a necessity of the process). The Internet offers a fourth option - to blog. The rise of literary agent blogs has empowered concerned agents to stop complaining about atrocious queries, and start doing something about them - through educating aspiring writers about what makes a well or poorly presented query. As a result, there now exists on the Internet a wealth of articles, discussions, tips and guidelines covering more than you ever wanted to know about the art and craft of writing an excellent query and avoiding total lameness.

The post I want to feature here comes from agent/blogger Rachelle Gardner, a pioneer in helping break down the institutional barriers between agents and aspiring writers by creating a lively and open community around her blog. One of her major areas of interest is helping new writers understand the query process.

This post of Rachelle's is noteworthy not because it breaks new ground, but because it covers an important piece of old ground in a concise and readable manner. The mistakes she lists are common and annoying to the typical agent. Although she will not automatically reject a query containing one or more of these if it describes a compelling story, they are all mistakes that weaken the presentation, and can be easily avoided if the writer is aware of them. (All agents have different standards, and some WILL automatically reject a query for even minor errors).

So, if you're struggling to frame a query, or just want to admire a well written set of tips, do check it out.



Terry said...

Your blog has lots of good information. The reviews are particularly good.

Steve said...

Terry, thanks for the kind words. Feel free to recommend the blog to others. I'm new and hoping for readership.

I missed my weekly blog review this past weekend, because of day-job pressures, but knowing I'm starting to get readers will motivate me to keep on track.

Thanks again,


Terry said...

Hey, anytime. I learned some. I just added you to my blog roll, not that I'm Miss Popularity, or anything:)

Best of luck with your blog.