The Query Shark

For those who don't know what a query letter is, think of it as a job application for writers. It's a letter of introduction about a specific project in which you ask an agent or an editor to consider working with you for the purpose of publishing your writing. As I said in another post, with a job app, you can kinda shrug it off if you don't get the job. With a query rejection, it's like an announcement that your child is so ugly, it's going to be killed.

The query process has begun for The High Bridge.

Okay, okay, I've only sent out three so far. One rejection has already come back, which didn't create the immediate and visible reaction I expected, although the results have caused cracks through which a little lava has seeped (high blood pressure, argument with The Husband, over-intensity in other activities not writing related...)

It was only one rejection, I know. Even though I can claim a 33% rate of non-return, I shouldn't react too harshly for all that. The law of averages are inherently against me at that low volume, but still, I keep thinking I have to 'fix' it somehow.

Yes, I've gotten advice from many sources about writing a good query letter, but I'm one of those people who needs examples to support an explanation. If there are rules to be followed, I'm very much inclined to interpret them how it pleases me. Either through stupidity or stubbornness, my imagination will draw all the wrong conclusions.

So, I've been spending lots of time reading (and re-reading) a website called The Query Shark, by Janet Reid. Janet is a semi-mysterious figure, although her public persona is well known. Starting with Miss Snark, she's been giving advice (and high blood pressure -haha!) to querying writers in a sardonic yet amazingly helpful ways for at LEAST ten years (yes, since she was 19 - haha!) She's also a literary agent who knows her stuff, so if I glean anything for the total 'rip' of the submitted query letters, I should be ahead of the game.

Funny how writers say "write for yourself" but feel (for the most part) that someone has to read your creation in order to be fulfilled. It's a strange paradox.


  1. I love The Query Shark. I always recommend it to writers who are querying! It's such a great resource.

  2. One of the best sources I've seen put it this way:
    First paragraph:
    (begin with name of protag) is a ____ who ____. (then write several sentences describing something of the character's background and current world, introducing us to her/him.)

    Paragraph 2:
    Suddenly, (or) But when, (then fill in the major turning point that leads to the confrontation)

    Paragraph 3:
    Begin this sentence with 'Now' and make it an action sentence.

    In the first three paragraph, the word count should stay under 200 or 250 tops.

    This exercise cleared it all up for me and I received 4 requests for more material within two weeks :)


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