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Query Quandary....when opinions clash


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#1 CM_Fick

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 12:55 PM

So I am on another writers forum (gasp!) with the various versions of my query, and there they insist that a query is short, short, short! Above all else, that is key. and I'm not even talking the suggested 250 words --- I'm talking 100 words max for the hook and summary (singular) paragraph. 

I know everyone has different opinions on this matter, and agents will also respond to different queries differently, but this seems like pushing it into the realm of not-enough-information. 

 

Have any of you come across resources that validate this argument? I know that I push the longer queries to cut down on length, but this seems excessive. 



#2 Blueberry Tide

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 05:49 PM

Hmm...all the advice I've gotten has mentioned queries that are about 250 word, but more important than the words is that it's comfortably one page-ish. Of course, since most agents these days to things electronically, that doesn't really matter. I highly recommend finding advice from actual agents on the matter of queries. Writer's Digest has a book, the most recent being "2017 Guide to Literary Agents," which has some great advice from real, current agents to good and bad queries. If you've got access to a public library, I'd definitely try to get a hold of a copy. That's how I found it. (I don't know how pricey it is, but I'm sure it's a pretty number of pennies.)

 

Even on here when I submit a query letter for feedback, I get a mixed bag of responses. Some like the hook, others say it's not specific enough, other say it's not simple enough; everyone's got their own idea of what a query should be. But, like I said, those who read the query have more valuable opinions, in my opinion. It goes back to the old argument of people who are not professionals trying to give professional advice. I'm not, nor have I ever been, a literary agent, so my opinion isn't worth a lot when it comes to queries or hooks, either. 

 

Haha, like the rest of publishing, it's a crapshoot. 



#3 CM_Fick

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 06:32 PM

Thanks for sharing your opinion Blueberry Tide. It always interests me how other writers go through their process. 

 

I too agree that it should be within the standard, accepted word count, and funny you should mention writers market... this is where the conflicting information is coming from - their writers digest forums. I do have the guide you mention (it wasn't too costly with the discount they offered at the time), and while it's been helpful, something still isn't clicking. 

 

It was just off-putting that they wanted it that short - and it feels wrong for a query to be carved down to three or four sentences. 



#4 Thrash

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 01:43 PM

I have two versions of my query---one that is very short, about that 100 word mark, that I use when agents ask for a chunk of pages (and sometimes a synopsis as well!), and one that's about 275 for when they want the query only. 



#5 Blueberry Tide

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 03:46 PM

True. In the end, the content matters more than the word count. Writing queries has been the hardest thing I've done as a writers. It's worse than a research paper in a subject I don't care about. 

 

Looking at successful queries might be a helpful tool as well. I'm almost completely positive that there's a forum on here for that. 



#6 bigblackcat97

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Posted 02 April 2017 - 11:01 PM

Generally with queries you can aim for a 300 word arena. If you're in the 100 word arena it's more like an elevator pitch - which is a great thing to have.


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