Friday, August 13, 2010

What I Learned from WriteOnCon about Queries

WriteOnCon is over and I have to say I enjoyed every minute that I attended this first annual online conference. My keen interest was the subject of query letters and took notes. I'll mention a couple of things that stood out to me. I learned so much about agents and what happens on the receiving end of query writing. Kate Testerman gave a lot of great information but when she said that she received 6000 queries in one year and only signed one new client, my jaw dropped. When asked which client that was she said look for the debut novel of Veronica Roth's Divergent. She could not put the manuscript down to eat or shower. That's the kind of book she's looking for.

Natalie M. Fisher agreed to give query critiques and received over eighty from conference attendees. As she went through them we all received a reality check as well as some spontaneous belly laughs. A couple of the things she covered were:  if they were too long, she didn't read them at all and if they hinted at a "tired plot" she wasn't interested, the plot had to be unique especially in romance queries. And when someone had used a word from the novel without explanation, she said "Never write your query as if I'm already supposed to know what things are." There were several things she did like and one of those was reading the tone of the heroine in the query letter, she said it was a snarky voice and she immediately liked her.

So back to Query Writing 101 for me.

On my post about Synopses one of the comments from Jayne mentioned to make sure and include in my list to reveal the ending of the novel. I knew that but failed to mention it, so consider it number eight. Thanks, Jayne.

12 comments:

  1. Writing a book that an agent or editor can't put down to even eat or shower should be what we all aim for. :)

    I learned not to leave out the end of the story by reading my students' queries. When they leave me hanging—especially with a question like, How will Jane find her way home? or some such silliness—it drives me nuts. And I remember that feeling every time I go to write a query so I won't make the same mistake.

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  2. Sounds like it was a very useful conference. Thanks for posting this information about what to do and not do.
    Ann

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  3. I LOVED all the amazing advice from the industry professionals! Weren't they just AMAZING?!?!?

    I am so glad you enjoyed WriteOnCon!

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  4. They were amazing, Jamie! And so were you and the other delightful hostesses who worked hard to bring us this conference. I can't wait until next year.

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  5. This is helpful advice. Thanks. I did some lurking at WriteOnCom and what I go to was terrific! Now it's time for me to get to all I missed!

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  6. I signed up but didn't have too much time to attend. Next time I'll take a day off!

    Thanks for the info about the queries. Great stuff!

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  7. I hate that I missed most of the "live" WriteOnCon (that dang day job, ha). But I'm catching up on reading the posts now.

    Sounds like you got a lot of good information. I think it's great that the founders are keeping up the content for the people like me who couldn't catch it live.

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  8. Karen, I think it's great, too, and I'm spending some more time over there.

    Kimberly, since they are keeping the content up on the site, you can go over at your leisure to look. Thanks for stopping by and becoming a follower.

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  9. I write romantic suspense and really enjoyed the conference anyway. So much information! I hope this kind of thing takes off for other genres.

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  10. Thanks for sharing the tips you learned on query writing. I just read on another blog that we should have someone who hasn't read our story review our critique, to make sure we aren't assuming knowledge the reader wouldn't have if they weren't familiar with our story. I thought that was great advice, too.

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  11. Thanks for sharing - it's amazing the deluge that agents get. :)

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  12. Due to the 12-hour time difference between me and the US, I was hesitant to sign on for the conference...but next time I will.

    Thanks for sharing the info here.

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