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How to know if your query has problems


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#1 asmcdermott

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Posted 01 March 2017 - 10:14 AM

So I've sent out 16 queries and received 3 form rejections so far. I know it's still too early to judge the effectiveness of my query, but I've heard many people say that if you don't receive at least a request for a partial from someone then your query probably needs revising. So if I don't hear anything positive in the next few weeks I'll definitely take another look at how to improve it. But since most agents also ask for sample pages, how do you know if it's the query or the sample pages that are the problem? Especially when you don't get feedback from the agent on either? Do you just keep revising both, in the hopes that something will click?



#2 Litgal

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    In between I became a "hybrid" as part of a group of six authors involved in a high concept novel-in-six-parts called "A Day of Fire" which released in November of 2014. The book, "A Day of Fire," tells the story of the final days of the doomed city of Pompeii in a way you've never read it before.

Posted 07 March 2017 - 07:32 PM

Back in the day--when some queries still were snail mail (gasp) and fewer involved opening pages--you knew your letter wasn't working if, after several rounds, you weren't hitting 20% request rate for material. Once pages began to be added you are correct it made it harder to judge whether the letter, the material (or merely the concept not being marketable at this moment) is the real culprit. 

The only thing you can do is make sure that your first pages have been critiqued by good critique partners and that your letter has,likewise, been revised until you are sick of looking at it. Short of that you won't know until you get some real feedback from a submission. 


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#3 Thrash

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 02:01 PM

^^everything she said. 

 

Also, give your query to someone who isn't a writer or industry person, have them read it, and then ask them to tell you in their own words what kind of book they think it is.  If they're spot on, you know your query is at least clear. 



#4 asmcdermott

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 04:22 PM

Thanks for the advice. I'm up to six rejections now but at least one of them gave me some tips on revising the query so I think I have an even stronger pitch now.



#5 Litgal

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    In between I became a "hybrid" as part of a group of six authors involved in a high concept novel-in-six-parts called "A Day of Fire" which released in November of 2014. The book, "A Day of Fire," tells the story of the final days of the doomed city of Pompeii in a way you've never read it before.

Posted 11 March 2017 - 01:30 PM

Thanks for the advice. I'm up to six rejections now but at least one of them gave me some tips on revising the query so I think I have an even stronger pitch now.

Any time you get genuine, personalized feedback that is a GOOD thing (and often a good sign as well). Agents are swamped to if they are responding with critique then you at least know they felt you warranted that. 


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#6 ah_522

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 01:03 AM

I second what litgal and Thrash said. Something else that might help is reading the submission guidelines of each lit agent you're querying and only querying the agents who want a query letter. If you query ten agents who have this policy and 2/10 request, then you know your letter is effective and you don't need to revise it. And if you query agents who want the first 10 pages and a query and get passes, then it might be your pages that might need reworking. 

 

I got really lucky on this, but the project I'm querying got over 50% personalised rejections, and the agents all said they liked my query letter but weren't drawn in by my pages. That really helped me realise my pages were the issue, and I happily revised thanks to that awesome feedback. :)






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