WTQ – What the Query?!

So hey, I talked about queries once upon a time, but I realized that I never really said how they’re written.  This is definitely important, because you can’t find instructions to write query letters anywhere else on the internet.  I mean, this link would certainly not take you to an hour-and-a-half Q&A with a real live agent who tells you what to write in your query letter…  And this forum definitely isn’t a place to give and receive critiques with other aspiring writers… Like I said: you can’t find nothing.  Trust me, I’ve checked everywhere.  The whole internet.

Let’s assume that you disregard the above advice and wish to sell your mms for super big bucks (wow, this post is so sarcastic…)  To do this, ye must scribe a querye lettre.  And if your mission is to write the most terrible query letter of all time, this post will show you just how to do it.  Yay.  Woo.

1. If you want to write a terrible query letter, misspell the agent’s name, or just slap on a nice old bland “To Whom it May Concern,”  Really, why would you personalize your query if you want it to be terrible?  Especially stray away from any humanizing characteristics your protagonist might possess.  The agent might actually begin to connect with you, the author, and who wants that?  Agents are super gross.  Think cooties.  But big, literary ones.

2. Capitulate to your enigmatic ways: leave the genre a complete mystery.  Only an agent who actually wants to know what they’re representing will want to know what genre your book falls into.  This is a very important step in writing a bad query letter.

3. Similarly to number 2 (hah) don’t include the title or word-count of your book, or, include the title, but spell it all wrong!  That way you look incompetent AND mysterious.

4. Put mountains in your query letter.

If a picture's worth 1,000 words, then this is your whole query letter, right?
If a picture’s worth 1,000 words, then this is your whole query letter, right?

Just kidding, putting mountains in your query will win you all the agent love in the entire world.

5. In the perfectly terrible query letter, make sure that your plot synopsis is roughly fifty-three pages long and focuses exclusively on sub-points and side-characters.  You don’t want to focus it on the impetus for action in your book–instead give a general gloss-over of the entire plot in as vague of terms as possible.  And by all means, give away the ending, too!  You wouldn’t want to risk piquing someone’s interest by cliff-hanging that bad boy…

6. By NO MEANS WHATSOEVER should you even consider writing a one-sentence ‘elevator pitch’ to start your summary.  Summarizing the thematic gist–the central conflict–is UTTERLY FUTILE if you want to write the perfect worst-query-letter.  In fact, you ought to stray as far away from the central theme as possible.  The less conflict your plot seems to have, the better!

7. Don’t personalize–don’t include your address, your previous writing accolades (you don’t want to look like a braggart, sheesh) and definitely don’t let them know if your query is a multiple submission.

8. And finally, if you want to write the worst query letter in the world, the WORST thing you can do is actually send it out.  The most perfect worst query is the one that is written following the above six steps and promptly deleted, laptop burned, etc. etc. amen.

As an unrelated side note, I’m posting Chapter 2 this Friday, so let the comments rain down.  Tell your family, tell your friends.  You know the shtick.

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Don’t steal my words.  They’re mine. Zachary Barnes 2015©

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