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 How to Write a Great Query Letter

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Malcolm
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PostSubject: How to Write a Great Query Letter   Fri Feb 22, 2008 8:48 am

Agent Noah Lukeman's "How to Write a Great Query Letter" is available for free download as an Amazon Short.

He suggests that queries for fiction should be three paragraphs, no more, no less, and each of them has a very distinct purpose.

A careful read of his no-nonsense book shows that a lot of the stuff that writers put into their queries not only doesn't help, but sends up a giant red flag.

If you have read the book, what did you think of it? Have you tried Lukeman's technique with any success?

--Malcolm
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Jenny
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PostSubject: Re: How to Write a Great Query Letter   Fri Feb 22, 2008 9:19 am

Thanks for the heads up, Malcolm. I've read both his books and found them invaluable.
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Jenny
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PostSubject: Re: How to Write a Great Query Letter   Fri Feb 22, 2008 9:41 am

For those interested in Noah Lukeman's book - "How to write a great query letter", you can also download it from his website.

http://www.lukeman.com/greatquery/Great-Query-May-07.pdf
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Shelagh
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PostSubject: Re: How to Write a Great Query Letter   Fri Feb 22, 2008 10:01 am

Thanks Jenny! That's something everyone should download!

_________________

Amazon Author Central: Shelagh Watkins
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Pam
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PostSubject: Re: How to Write a Great Query Letter   Fri Feb 22, 2008 4:42 pm

What a great resource - I skimmed it and saved it so that I can look at it more closely when I am ready to do them again. Thanks Jenny!
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zadaconnaway
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PostSubject: Re: How to Write a Great Query Letter   Fri Feb 22, 2008 11:09 pm

I did what you did, Pam. I am so far behind right now, I may never catch up; but I definitely want to read the entire thing.
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Pam
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PostSubject: Re: How to Write a Great Query Letter   Sat Feb 23, 2008 7:32 am

If I printed off my entire reading pile and added it to the stack in my office, I know it would be taller than I am, but I do manage to knock things off it now and again, although I admit that I do a lot more skimming than actual reading these days.
I wonder how long everyone else's "to read" lists are these days?
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Brenda Hill
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PostSubject: Re: How to Write a Great Query Letter   Sat Feb 23, 2008 9:41 am

Well, to add to the confusion:

I downloaded NL’s query advice and love it. However, I think the advice is as subjective as one agent passing on the manuscript and another accepting.

One agent, can’t remember the name, said a one paragraph description didn’t give her enough information about the plot, so she likes to see three well-written paragraphs condensing the entire story.

Another said she likes to see comparisons to other titles, yet another said it was presumptuous to compare.

Here’s another agent who states specifically what he wants:

http://www.zackcompany.com/
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zadaconnaway
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PostSubject: Re: How to Write a Great Query Letter   Sat Feb 23, 2008 9:56 am

Wow. He seems to be interested in most everything within certain guidelines. At least it is very well defined in the "What We Want" section.
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Brenda Hill
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PostSubject: Re: How to Write a Great Query Letter   Sat Feb 23, 2008 10:10 am

That's just recently, Zada. Before, he was very specific in what he was willing to read. Guess since he married, he's open to more genres. But his query letter advice has remained the same.

That's why the process can be so confusing.
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Abe F. March
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PostSubject: Re: How to Write a Great Query Letter   Sat Feb 23, 2008 10:25 am

Brenda,
What you say makes much sense. Every Agent is different. Yes, there are some basics that apply to all of them, namely: being brief and packing the punch.

In the other forum (and you know the one I mean), my impression of some authors was based on their lengthy posts. I believe much of their problems involved too much detail. Having the reader wanting to know more is just good writing technique.
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Brenda Hill
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PostSubject: Re: How to Write a Great Query Letter   Sat Feb 23, 2008 10:39 am

Hi Abe! Nice to see you.

I so agree with you and think being brief, yet writing with a little suspense, applies to queries and to our synopses.

If anyone would be interested, I'd be happy to post the query that snagged my agent.
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George Maciver
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PostSubject: Re: How to Write a Great Query Letter   Sat Feb 23, 2008 10:51 am

I'm very interested!!
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Brenda Hill
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PostSubject: Re: How to Write a Great Query Letter   Sat Feb 23, 2008 11:03 am

Hi George!

This is one of several I developed, but they all have the intro, a tagline, and a blurb.

Some I sent with a three paragraph summation, but this one has only the one:


Dear Agent: (name withheld upon request)

As a free-lance fiction editor and instructor, I edited (author’s name withheld) first chapter and she suggested I contact you about my completed women's fiction novel.

Approximately 82,000 words, Beyond the Quiet is about a woman who, after her husband of twenty-five years dies, finally learns to live. (Tagline)

Lisa Montgomery never learned to show love. As a child, she was acceptable only if she were clean, composed and quiet. Now, after husband's death from cancer, she learns her tight control has led to betrayal. Her daughter, instead of offering comfort and support, is judgmental and emotionally distant. Lisa’s only salvation is learning to open her heart to those who love her. (Brief summation)

I’ve studied novel writing at the University of Iowa’s summer sessions, taken the Writer’s Digest course as well as Gotham online classes. My first novel, Ten Times Guilty, released by Publish America, garnered a four-star review in the Romantic Times Bookclub Magazine, January 2006 issue, Mystery section. One of my short stories was featured as a ‘Twelve-tissue Tearjerker” in True Story Magazine, and another was recently released in a midwest literary anthology. I teach novel and short story writing in Southern California. (Bio)

Would you be interested in seeing the first few chapters? (The pitch)

Thank you, and so on (Closing)

Hope this helps.
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pol mcshane
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PostSubject: How to Write a Great Query Letter   Sat Feb 23, 2008 11:06 am

Thanks for the information. I, too, saved this for a more detailed reading. I am currently searching for an agent (I guess like everyone else, huh?) and this will help tremendously.
Pol
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