From time to time on the blog, we’ll ask a friend to step up and share some insights into the writing process.
Heather Kindt, winner of the July 2018 Word Weaver Writing Contest, was recently signed by Parliament House Press, a publisher here in Florida. Part of the process of getting signed was writing a query letter, something most writers struggle with. I asked Heather to share her insights, so we can all benefit.
How Do I Write a Query?
When I first got into writing, I was on my own. I didn’t know any other writers, so I relied heavily on the Internet. The story I had within me wanted to be shared with the world. But I didn’t know the steps I need to take to be published.
It was at this time that I found out about the world of agents and publishers and of synopsizes, manuscripts, and the dreaded query. The year was 2008.
I found out that I needed a query letter to get an agent, but I had no idea what it was or how to write one. That’s where my good friend the Internet came in. I scoured articles on how to write one and what a good one looked like. That’s when my query for The Weaver was born.
But what steps did I take to create it?
- Write an introduction – The first few sentences should tell the agent or publisher that you are seeking representation or publication for your work. Tell them the genre and the length of the manuscript.
- Hook the reader – Just like a blurb hooks a reader, you need to hook your reader here as well. Acquisition agents go through thousands of queries a year. If you don’t hook them from the get go, you will lose them. As you can see in my query below, I used one simple sentence: Most authors control the ending of their story, but most authors are not Weavers.
It’s to the point and gives you the main thrust of the story, but leaves mystery.
Why don’t Weavers control the ending of their stories?
Read on, I’ve got you hooked.
- Body – The body needs to be just as good as your hook. This is where you give the meat of your book without giving away the ending. When I wrote the query for The Weaver, I wanted it to be light-hearted before it weaved its way into the paranormal side of the book. The first paragraph presents the least of Laney’s problems—the subject of her undying love is a character in the book she’s writing. The second paragraph presents her life-changing realization that life isn’t as normal as she hoped and that she’s a Weaver. The final paragraph nails down the main premise of the book. Laney finds out that her antagonist wants to change the ending of her story by killing the man she loves. Life’s just gotten a whole lot more complicated! End with a bang making them want to read your manuscript.
- Credentials – You should end your query with your writing credentials, website, etc. This is also the point where you can give your call-to-action. Let them know that you look forward to hearing from them.
This query has been successful for me. Back in 2008, it prompted an agent to ask me for my full manuscript.
More recently, a publishing company also asked me for my full manuscript and I’m happy to say The Weaver will be published in the fall of 2019.
Let me know what you think. What successful elements have you included in a query? What questions do you have?
Query for The Weaver
I am seeking to publish my young adult fantasy novel THE WEAVER. The manuscript is complete at approximately 66,000 words and is the first book in a three book series. I believe it is a good fit for (insert publishing company).
Most authors control the ending of their story, but most authors are not Weavers.
William Clarke is perfect for Delaney Holden. He’s ambitious, smart, funny, and could easily pose for the cover of a magazine. The only problem for Delaney is that he’s completely unavailable. It isn’t a supermodel girlfriend that stands in the way of eternal bliss, but the pages of a book. Delaney is infatuated with a character in the historical fiction novel she’s writing, but at the moment, her imaginary boyfriend is the least of her concerns.
The worries of the average girl in college revolve around making it into the right sorority, finding a hot guy to date, and keeping her credit card balance in check. Delaney has another worry to add to this list. When she is attacked in the subway by Jonas Webb, the scoundrel in her book, a family secret starts to unravel changing her ordinary college life into an unbelievable fantasy. She discovers that she is a Weaver.
Delaney’s ability as a Weaver bridges the narrow gap between imagination and reality, bringing her words to life. She is suspended between the reality of a teenage girl’s life and the fantasy of her writing. The two genres clash when Jonas reveals that he has a whole different ending planned for her book that involves killing the man she loves. Delaney finds herself in a situation where she must use her writing to save the people closest to her by weaving the most difficult words she will ever write.
Heather Kindt is the author of the award-winning novel Ruby Slips and Poker Chips: The Modern Tale of Dorothy Gale. The first book in her Weaver trilogy will be released next year. She lives in the mountains of Colorado with her husband and two teenagers. Connect with Heather at www.heatherkindt.com.