Friday, April 17, 2009


For those readers of this blog looking for advice on how to write a query letter, you can do no better than to soak in the wisdom you've received this week from my fellow Girls. All of it is apt, spot-on and well worth listening to.

Me? I've never written a query letter that sold me a book. Seriously.

WONDROUS STRANGE was sold sans query. So - really - what the heck do I know about writing a query letter??

Well... I knew enough to write the one that got me an agent, and that was the most important thing. And the most important thing in that query, I know (largely because my agent has told me this), was my voice.

If there is one thing - one salient piece of advice I can add to the discussion - it is this. Your query must must must reflect your voice. Some people will tell you a query letter is a business letter and so it is. But it's also your art in small. You must make it reflect the work it represents - tonally, thematically, presentationally... somehow. It can never be just "here's what my story is about". For example, Maureen's letter oozes her voice - it's full of quirky, irreverent humor with heart. And even though Jillian talks of her query letter being pretty-bare bones, well, you still get a powerful sense of her precise, poetic way with words. Even just a few words.

My feeling about queries is, quite simply, the same way I feel about story. You can have the most intricate, intriguing, finely-wrought plot in the world but unless it's being populated by characters worth getting to know, I'm not going to care. Same thing with querying - you can have a really great premise for a story but unless you let me in on how your going to tell it, I'm not going to care.

Make an agent - or an editor - care. Make your query speak. Give it your voice.


Jillian Cantor said...

Great advice, Lesley. And interesting, too, because I hadn't really thought about voice in a query letter before.

Maureen Lipinski said...

Exactly! If your book is funny, don't write it like an obituary. If your book is literary, show your beautiful voice.