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Query Saturday: We need more queries

Sadly there is no query for today because no one wants to play with us. I can do a couple of things for query Saturday. I can solicit queries from debut authors who have books coming out soon so that it serves as an example for aspiring authors and promotion for those debut authors. Or, we could do blurb Saturday where I pick out a couple blurbs and post them here, blind, and we can talk about what we like and/or don’t like about the blurbs.

Or we can do something else entirely. I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

53 Comments

  1. Gail Faulkner
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 05:13:10

    I’m amazed. This is one of the most helpful blog events I’ve ever seen. Very interactive.

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  2. Angela James
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 06:13:17

    I vote for something else entirely. There are so many times I read some of the comments about query letters and shake my head, hoping the author doesn’t actually read them.

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  3. Sherry Thomas
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 08:39:17

    I’ve only read through a couple of those threads and I have to agree with Angela that the comments were a little harsh.

    I’d volunteer my old query but that baby’s been at my blog and my agent’s blog, and even got pirated to be used for somebody’s newsletter. So somebody else’s query would prolly be fresher material.

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  4. Sarabeth
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 08:47:01

    I like the blurb idea.

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  5. Julie Leto
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 08:51:16

    The thing about blurbs is that authors don’t write them. So posting a critical review of them won’t be all that helpful…though I will admit it would be very interesting.

    As for the debut author’s letters, that’s an interesting idea. Would, as Sherry’s is, most of the letters be to agents? Because most debut authors outside of category have agents, meaning there was no query to a publisher (just a cover letter written by the agent).

    I found the information on the previous queries both interesting and way off base. But it was just opinions and Lord knows, writers have to learn how to slog through those.

    How about the first page of an unpublished book? Up to 250 words or something? To see if it grabs reader’s attention? Because let’s be frank…most readers and editors know what will make them either turn the page or put the book back on the shelf (or slap a form rejection on there.)

    Just an idea.

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  6. Shannon Stacey
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 08:52:30

    I’d love to see something else entirely. While the Query Saturday posts seemed entertaining to many, they weren’t helpful to the authors. IMHO, just the opposite.

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  7. Kathleen MacIver
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 09:13:25

    I have to admit that I haven’t offered my query because at least one of the agents I intend to send it to reads this blog… and I’m not sure how having read it first here would affect them, when they get it in their inbox!

    Plus… I couldn’t be anonymous. If anyone here has checked out my website at ALL, they’d know right where the query came from. :-)

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  8. Jane
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 09:21:57

    Hmm, Julie, I really like your idea. Maybe we could post the first 250 words and then link to a longer excerpt, i.e., like first chapters or something. Would we limit it to debut authors? Or make it available for anyone?

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  9. Leah
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 09:48:10

    This is interesting…I thought that the query responses would have been considered helpful–I assumed that people would weed out the ones from “just readers,” like myself, and pay attention to the responses from published authors, and there seemed to have been quite a few of those. I didn’t think the responses were overly harsh–I am coming to realize that the publishing world doesn’t coddle one much and assumed that once my novel is complete enough to merit a query, I would submit it here, get it trashed, and improve it to the point I could sent it out into the world with (a little) confidence. I am a complete novice at this point, so tell me, am I wrong? Did people just trash others’ queries for the heck of it, or were they offering advice to others that they themselves had to learn the hard way?

    As far as what comes next, I would like to see some successful queries, either to agents or publishers–esp. agents, as I hope to be in the position to approach a few in the next year.

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  10. Carrie Lofty
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 10:04:05

    I’d volunteer my debut novel’s query, if that helps. Might be fun to see what worked to catch someone’s eye.

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  11. Jackie
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 10:21:02

    You could ask published authors to post their queries that worked — examples of queries that wound up landing them either an agent or a book deal.

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  12. Maya
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 10:56:47

    oh please oh please, don’t stop the query saturdays just as they were getting going! it was so illuminating for me to read the comments from ‘pure’ readers and readers/authors alike. i didn’t find them overly harsh at all, IIRC every one that pointed out a potential weakness also offered something positive. of course that’s easy for me to say since i wasn’t one of the affected hopfeuls, but i seem to recall at least one contributor who said comments were helpful. i am indebted to those brave souls who offered their work so people like me could learn and work up the courage to submit their virgin query as well.

    i also love these ideas:
    - carrie sharing her successful query,
    - other successful queries if their inventors agree
    - blurb feedback : though it seems from above comments that these are provided by some publishers, i don’t think it’s universal. an author friend with ellora’s cave, for example, writes (and agonizes over) her own

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  13. Tumperkin
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 10:57:25

    I agree that the comments on the queries were pretty critical and suspect that has put people off offering up their queries. The other thing that struck me about this feature is that there did not appear to be a uniform view as to what the purpose of it was. The initial impression I had was that you wanted to know if readers would be attracted by the premise of the book (and I commented on a couple of these posts accordingly). However, the vast majority of the comments approached this on the basis of how good a selling tool the actual query was. Both are valid responses but I wasn’t clear what you really intended this feature to be.

    I think the first page idea is a good one. Something that would make it really interesting to me would be to also get an agent’s take on it – i.e. what it is about a particular first page that makes them think ‘keep reading’. It might even be fun to do that with some established romance classics if you could get an agent to volunteer to give a view.

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  14. Jill Sorenson
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 11:08:56

    I was fond of Query Saturday and found most of the comments, especially from published authors, very helpful. Perhaps there was too much confusion between what constitutes a good query and a good backcover blurb. Agree that some of the comments were harsh.

    It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there, so props to everyone who did.

    Being a new author, I like the idea of new author promotion, but I didn’t really sell on a query. What about synopsis Saturday? I would also be willing to submit a blurb (when I get one…sigh), and not care as much if it got torn apart because I didn’t write it.

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  15. Marie
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 11:09:47

    I like the idea of the first 250 words of an unpublished work. But, using personal experience, I need help right now and am looking for input and have no where to really turn. Perhaps we might have a “How can we help forum” each saturday. The Author can put out the first 250 words or query for feed back or ask a question.

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  16. Linda Mooney
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 12:13:45

    Jane,

    Forgive me for intruding, but I couldn’t see where else I could bring this up.

    Are y’all aware of what’s going on over at Amazon with regards to them dropping the BUY links to books if you’re published with a POD?

    Amazon bought BookSurge. They’re now telling e-presses, and anyone else who uses another source other than BS, that if they don’t switch to BS, the buy links to their paperbacks will be discontinued.

    Well, I got notification today that the buy links to my paperbacks from Whiskey Creek Press are no longer there. Ditto from other authors.

    Authors, if you have pbacks out with an e-press, go check. It appears the strong-arm tactics have begun. :(

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  17. Jane
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 12:45:43

    Linda – I did blog about this the other day in the “Industry News” section of Dear Author. These posts don’t show up on the front page, but you can read them through a news reader or by clicking on the “industry news” tab.

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  18. Val Kovalin
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 12:46:02

    I found the Query-Saturdays extremely interesting reading, and found the comments to be helpful, detailed, and realistic — not overly harsh at all. I look forward to sending in a query myself when I’m further down the road to finishing my first novel. So I don’t want to see it go away.

    If you’re running low on sample queries you could alternate them with something else every other Saturday as others have suggested. Blurb-feedback would be useful, especially to the self-published who have to write their own blurbs. And I really like Julie’s idea of the first page of a unpublished novel. Or the first couple of pages. I’d be willing to read and comment on 500 words. The first pages of anyone’s novel are so important and yet so hard to do well!

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  19. Mara
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 12:48:42

    If you do keep the Query Saturday going, I would like to encourage other writers to submit their queries. I was the first one to go through it and yes, it was brutal, but it was also some of the most helpful advice I’ve gotten from anyone who’s given me input on my work. It helped me revise the query and additionally provided insight into the weaknesses in both my writing style and the content of my work.

    I think seeing your writing through someone else’s eyes is invaluable. I greatly appreciated every single comment (even that first one with all the sarcasm *g*), because I really want to improve (and virtually all of the comments were not harsh, just honest. It’s just difficult to lay your heart’s work out there for inspection, no matter how gentle the inspection turns out to be). And as someone’s said, better to get that kind of feedback before you’re published rather than after.

    I think the idea of feedback on a first page or paragraph would be very helpful, too. Feedback on your first three sentences is given over at the edittorrent blog and I found it even more helpful than I expected.

    In whatever fashion you decide, I do hope you’ll continue with some sort of feedback forum each week.

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  20. Ann Bruce
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 12:50:56

    Linda – Ellora’s Cave seems to be okay.

    And please continue Query/Blurb/Opening Scene Saturday. I’d offer a query, but I’ve written two. All my queries these days consist of “Hey, [my editor], I wrote this. What do you think?”

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  21. Linda Mooney
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 12:51:35

    Linda – I did blog about this the other day in the “Industry News” section of Dear Author. These posts don't show up on the front page, but you can read them through a news reader or by clicking on the “industry news” tab.

    Thank you! That’s why I didn’t find it. :)
    I’m going over there now!

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  22. Jessica Inclan
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 12:52:43

    For the class I teach on the romance novel, I recommended my students to come here on Saturdays to read the queries.

    What would be actually really wonderful is if dearauthor.com could provide a guest “reader,” an editor or agent, who would be willing to make comments. I’m not sure who would volunteer for such a job, but there might be someone willing.

    Our comments–published authors, aspiring authors, and general reader types–might not be as useful as those who have to deal with queries for a living.

    Jessica

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  23. Jo Leigh
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 13:13:43

    I like Julie’s idea, although in my opinion, even a whole first page is more than most readers give. When I was doing professional reading, it was the first one or two paragraphs. If those didn’t have it, that was that. Harsh, but real.

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  24. Gin
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 13:32:51

    If you’re doing beginnings, I’d recommed just 100 words. Two-fifty is longer than you think, when it comes to critiquing, and it’s really fascinating to see what a good writer can do, and what a reader can tell, with just 100 words. Which may be all a reader spares a new author before deciding whether to buy.

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  25. Robin
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 13:48:41

    While the Query Saturday posts seemed entertaining to many, they weren't helpful to the authors.

    Did they tell you this?

    I’m kind of confused by some of the reactions to the Query postings. I guess I can understand the perception that readers aren’t qualified to comment on queries (whether or not I agree with that), but I noticed a number of published authors among the commenters, so that made me think that the exercise might have some value to those who, you know, volunteered their queries. Although I would have liked a basic tutorial on the differences between a blurb and a query, I ultimately figured that what many of the comments focused on — the strength of the story and its novelty and the basic communication level of the query — would be valuable feedback at least on a general level.

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  26. JulieLeto
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 13:56:41

    Jane, if you want to help aspiring authors, then you could take the first 100 words or 250 from anyone. If you want to help promote debut authors, then you could post those…I guess it all boils down to who do you want to help.

    Personally, I think taking apart a debut author can do both. A) This is an author who RECENTLY sold, which means she has her fingers on the pulse of the fairly current market and B) it will help promote this author. However, criticism isn’t going to do this author any good–the book is already scheduled for the shelves.

    If you do an aspiring author, then it would be more helpful to them…and perhaps to other aspiring authors.

    I have a couple of projects myself that I’m toying with…you never know if someone like me might not put one in anonymously just to get initial feedback.

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  27. Shannon Stacey
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 14:24:21

    Did they tell you this?

    Actually one did, but even without that, most who’ve been a part of the romance writing community for any length of time would agree this wasn’t the right venue for that kind of exercise. And I mean no disrespect to Dear Author, but there were simply too many cooks with their spoons in the soup, many of whom didn’t know the recipe.

    And yes, there were published authors who understand the function and format of the query letter who tried to help and readers who picked up on elements of story that should/could be cleaned up, but their comments were buried in a whole lot of others that ranged from snarky to simply wrong. If an aspiring author had the knowledge and confidence to sift through all of the comments, there were helpful bits in there while discarding the rest, but that kind of stuff is hard to discard once you’ve read it.

    On the other hand, I think this would be a great place for critiquing the first 100 words of an anonymous story because then you’re looking for a reader’s reaction to a story.

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  28. Robin
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 14:45:49

    , most who've been a part of the romance writing community for any length of time would agree this wasn't the right venue for that kind of exercise. And I mean no disrespect to Dear Author, but there were simply too many cooks with their spoons in the soup, many of whom didn't know the recipe.

    You’ve made a few comments in this vein, and while I don’t think you intend them to be condescending, they still come across that way to me — it’s that sense of “appropriateness,” I think, especially in regard to either a) publicly published or b) publicly volunteered work. Also, a number of readers actually do write for a living, even if it’s outside Romance or fiction altogether. Some even teach writing. Although I don’t even think that should matter particularly. Beyond that, though, I don’t understand how comments that a) point out places where the writing is unclear or grammatically unsound, or b) where the story sounds derivative, uninteresting, or overly complicated are inappropriate when offered to *volunteered* queries, even if the commenters are *mere* readers. While those comments may not help the writer with the specific template of the query, I would think any writer seeking a public audience for his or her fiction might find them somewhat useful.

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  29. Shannon Stacey
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 15:21:12

    To be honest, Robin, I don’t believe I was condescending at all and I think you’re looking for it where it’s not. I have never dismissed anybody as a *mere* reader, and I didn’t use the word inappropriate. I simply don’t feel an author should open herself to the opinions of *any* large and diverse committee when composing a business/marketing letter to an editor.

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  30. Robin
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 15:45:58

    I didn't use the word inappropriate.

    But isn’t that really what you mean when say, for example that,
    “I personally don't feel this is the right forum for this kind of thing” or “most who've been a part of the romance writing community for any length of time would agree this wasn't the right venue for that kind of exercise.”

    To me — and I’ll admit I’m factoring some of your comments after the Edwards incident in here — there’s a sense that readers are overstepping our bounds, somehow, as “too many cooks with their spoons in the soup, many of whom didn't know the recipe.” Maybe that’s not how you mean it, but it continues to come across that way to me, as a different point than “I simply don't feel an author should open herself to the opinions of *any* large and diverse committee when composing a business/marketing letter to an editor,” where the onus is on the author and not readers or a particular blog. And where I’d place Miss Snark’s blog, too, regardless of the fact that she was supposedly an agent herself.

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  31. Shiloh Walker
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 16:16:19

    Robin, this is just my take on it, but I don’t think it was that Shannon was being condescending~more that she was trying to explain she wasn’t seeing the benefit from the queries.

    I got something out of it but I’m one of those writers that hate and abhor query letters so I’m going to look at any and all advice given.

    But readers aren’t necessarily looking for what an editor is looking for. Yeah, they both want a great book, but I think more plays into it for an editor. If the people participating in these discussions don’t know what that ‘more’ is (and I’m one of them), are we offering anything constructive?

    That’s how I interpreted Shannon’s comments.

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  32. Robin
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 16:42:05

    But readers aren't necessarily looking for what an editor is looking for. Yeah, they both want a great book, but I think more plays into it for an editor.

    Of course; I don’t mean to suggest that readers can serve the function of an agent or an editor. In fact, I’ve always pondered the great mystery of “how agents and editors work” with a fair amount of awe for those who can successfully predict the market, especially given the time lag from purchase to publication.

    If the people participating in these discussions don't know what that ‘more' is (and I'm one of them), are we offering anything constructive?

    I don’t know if there’s a single answer to this question, but I agree that it’s an important one to ask. And I think it’s the kind of question that can be asked any time someone submits work for the opinion of another. Even agents and editors differ in what they deem valuable, marketable, well-crafted, so the extent to which a writer composes or revises something based on feedback is always tricky (and this holds true regardless of the type of writing, IMO). I don’t know how valuable the Query Saturday was for writers, whether or not they submitted. That’s not what I objected to in Shannon’s comments. But I expressed my feelings (which I think it’s safe to say I’ve been holding unexpressed for a while, lol), so I won’t repeat myself.

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  33. Ciar Cullen
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 16:47:03

    I do like the blurb idea, and most epublished writers will tell you that they write those themselves–big fat sigh (because it’s a different type of writing, like queries).

    I for one am not thrilled about the idea of putting my whole book snynopsis/query out there for the world to see on the off chance that I’ve actually come up with something a little different. Go ahead, snort away, but I bet I’m not alone. I know, I probably couldn’t pay someone to steal my ideas…

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  34. Shiloh Walker
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 16:51:46

    That's not what I objected to in Shannon's comments. But I expressed my feelings (which I think it's safe to say I've been holding unexpressed for a while, lol), so I won't repeat myself.

    Repressing emotions is bad for the soul, Robin. ;)

    Go ahead, snort away, but I bet I'm not alone.

    Nope. Not alone. I very rarely discuss new ideas in any sort of public venue, and rarely in a private one~just one on one with a friend now and then.

    Moi? Paranoid? Oh absolutely.

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  35. Keishon
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 16:54:32

    I enjoyed the Query Saturday for what it was: solicited feedback. I would assume if it wasn’t helpful, such authors didn’t submit. And those who do find this helpful, visit and take note of what they agree with and discard the rest. I offered my honest opinions (while cringing inside). It takes guts to open yourself up to that kind of feedback: good or bad. I am in a completely different career so, I know nothing behind the scenes of publishing (nor do I want to know). I’m a reader, first, last and always.

    FWIW, I didn’t think Ms. Stacy was being condescending of this project. I thought she was being matter of fact. [shrug]

    Carry on…

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  36. Leah
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 18:30:01

    I’d like to bring up here that many of us live in more out-of-the-way places in which we have little opportunity to have critique groups, or partners, have lives which don’t give us time to take classes, etc., and so “Query Saturday,” and its ilk provide us learning opportunities which are often hard to come by. I would like to (gulp) put out my first 100 or whatever words…(double ulp!)…if the opportunity arises. I plan on sending my first 3 pages to RT, too, but I bet they’re just swimming in entries. Queries scare the crud out of me–so if Query Saturday is still around in abt 5-6 months, I’ll throw one out for an opinion.

    On the paranoia thing, though…I assume that I can prove from my electronic files that I came up with the words before someone else did…. Maybe that’s not right?

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  37. Genevieve
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 19:03:20

    I just discovered this website and am digging through it as we speak. I’m trying to get published, and the idea of query Saturdays is appealing to me. I just sent out my very first query, and would love a little feed back. Ditto with anything along the lines of synopsis, the first 250 pages, etc. Another great idea would be if, as a new author, you can ask an open-ended question: For example, does it bother you if a story is told from two different perspectives (given the cross over is clear), do you think XYZ situation is cliche’ and overused, that sort of thing.

    As for criticism – I think if you want to improve, learning to take in criticism, evaluate what is and isn’t valuable, and apply it is a vital part of life. Usually if someone is just being nasty for the sake of being nasty, I can recognize it as such. Although, my mom’s normally my reader, and she’s like Simon Cowell going through the change, so I may have just developed a tough skin at this point.

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  38. Kathleen MacIver
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 19:17:14

    I think that some of us didn’t value the query help here quite as highly as others, because we’ve already found good query help and input from several wonderful blogging agents.

    If the Ja(y)nes do not continue Query Saturdays here and some of you are still looking for help, feel free to join the rest of us on Nathan Bransford’s blog, Kristin Nelson’s Pub Rants, Jennifer Jackson’s Et in arcadia, ego, and Bookends, LLC.. There are more, but these are my favorites. Kristin Nelson even did a series, sharing and evaluating the successful query letters of her clients. You’ll find the links to those down on the right side of her blog.

    Happy query letter writing!

    (As for someone stealing your idea… I’ve discovered that it’s only we amateur writers who are worried about this. The more you understand about the business, the more you realize that someone would have to be insane to even try it… especially from a unpublished – and therefore unproven – author.)

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  39. Jessica Inclan
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 19:26:13

    From all the writing and web info on queries, the truth is, you can get advice of just about all types. I think there are great guidelines to follow, but the thing that makes them work to me (and I am a writer who has had to write them not necessarily someone who sifts through 2000 a month) is that they convey something exciting. How you get to that has a formula but when you see a good one, you know it.

    I thought the query thing was different from the rest of the topics on this site, but I don’t think that is a bad thing. It was/is very useful and interesting, and makes me appreciate more than anything that I don’t have to write them any more. Now, I still find myself having to write synopses, so Synopses Saturday would be useful for me!

    I think a blog site can get boring and rote. What I notice on this site is that the comment topics, the idea topics get a lot more energy than the reviews. Maybe people read the reviews, but it’s the ideas that get everyone on the board. People responded on Query Satruday. Maybe not as much when we get on a high horse of some kind, but it was peopled and interesting and useful.

    Jessica

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  40. Shannon Stacey
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 20:47:00

    To me -’ and I'll admit I'm factoring some of your comments after the Edwards incident in here -’ there's a sense that readers are overstepping our bounds, somehow, as “too many cooks with their spoons in the soup, many of whom didn't know the recipe.”

    If I’d known I was getting dinged for comments I made two months ago on an entirely different topic, I might have had a better idea where you were coming from. Without going back and rereading every comment and studying context and whatnot, I’m going to take a wild guess that you didn’t care for my comment that writers might start to fear that readers want to look over our shoulders while we write. I think I was just offering a theory on why some writers were getting a little nervous about readers wanting us to list every research source and such.

    But for today’s topic, saying Who the hell do you people think you are is condescending crap. Saying Don’t you worry your pretty little heads about it is condescending crap. Saying I personally believe this isn’t the best venue for an author seeking query help isn’t condescending, I don’t think.

    And at the risk of digging myself a deeper hole:

    This is the part of my comment which you quoted…

    , most who've been a part of the romance writing community for any length of time would agree this wasn't the right venue for that kind of exercise. And I mean no disrespect to Dear Author, but there were simply too many cooks with their spoons in the soup, many of whom didn't know the recipe.

    …for your response (bolding mine):

    You've made a few comments in this vein, and while I don't think you intend them to be condescending, they still come across that way to me -’ it's that sense of “appropriateness,” I think, especially in regard to either a) publicly published or b) publicly volunteered work. Also, a number of readers actually do write for a living, even if it's outside Romance or fiction altogether. Some even teach writing. Although I don't even think that should matter particularly. Beyond that, though, I don't understand how comments that a) point out places where the writing is unclear or grammatically unsound, or b) where the story sounds derivative, uninteresting, or overly complicated are inappropriate when offered to *volunteered* queries, even if the commenters are *mere* readers.

    I didn’t limit my comment on not enough cooks knowing the recipe to readers. There were a couple of published authors I thought gave pretty questionable advice, too. And the anonymity of the queries, while necessary, also works against it. Without knowing who a query is intended for, it’s awfully hard to tailor it to appeal to that editor/house, and that’s the most important aspect of the query letter.

    And maybe I’m wrong and this is the best forum ever for getting query help. Okay, fine. I was just offering an opinion. But I’ve never disregarded anybody’s opinion because they were a *mere* reader, and I apologize if I’ve made people feel I have.

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  41. K. Z. Snow
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 20:58:20

    Hmm, Julie, I really like your idea. Maybe we could post the first 250 words and then link to a longer excerpt, i.e., like first chapters or something. Would we limit it to debut authors? Or make it available for anyone?

    I like this idea, too, if the opportunity extends to everybody. Even published authors could benefit from a mix of feedback (other writers, readers, reviewers, editors), especially when they’re wading into a new subgenre. (Oy…) But the query analyses were also enlightening. Maybe you could do each on alternate weeks?

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  42. Shiloh Walker
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 21:11:49

    (As for someone stealing your idea… I've discovered that it's only we amateur writers who are worried about this. The more you understand about the business, the more you realize that someone would have to be insane to even try it… especially from a unpublished – and therefore unproven – author.)

    Kathleen, I’m far from being a pro, but I’ve got probably 30-40 pubbed titles between epubs and mainstream pubs, and I’m still paranoid. I think it’s an individual author thing, not a ‘how long you’ve been at it’ thing.

    On the paranoia thing, though…I assume that I can prove from my electronic files that I came up with the words before someone else did…. Maybe that's not right?

    Leah, I imagine they can. I just have quirks, many of them. ;) I keep telling my agent that my paranoia is part of my charm. Of course, she hasn’t agreed with me, but I’m entitled to my delusions, right?

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  43. Robin
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 23:23:18

    I was just offering an opinion.

    As was I. And I’m honestly not trying to start a brawl, so I won’t belabor the point by explaining again why I reacted the way I did. I’ll just say thanks for clarifying your point.

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  44. azteclady
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 23:41:42

    I’m probably a rude and insensitive so-and-so, but as a mere reader, I wonder…

    When a writer is published, their work is out there for everyone, their brother and their trained parakeet to look at, analyze, take apart, snark at, etc. That takes both guts and the ability to separate their identity from their work.

    If writers feel that comments made here, over something they volunteered freely, are too harsh, will they be able to achieve that degree of separation once their book does get published?

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  45. K. Z. Snow
    Mar 30, 2008 @ 00:20:58

    If writers feel that comments made here, over something they volunteered freely, are too harsh, will they be able to achieve that degree of separation once their book does get published?

    All writers need to realize that every writer takes knocks…and pretty regularly. Just gotta keep that fact in mind. A good place to go for solace is the Rejection Collection. I’m not sure when the site was last updated, but it’s still there and still relevant.

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  46. Amie Stuart
    Mar 30, 2008 @ 10:20:39

    Kathleen, I'm far from being a pro, but I've got probably 30-40 pubbed titles between epubs and mainstream pubs, and I'm still paranoid.

    Shiloh you are not alone! LOL

    As to successful queries and blurbs…I think it’s a great idea. I actually do write most of my blurbs–they get changed by my editor but the bare bones come from me.

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  47. Nora Roberts
    Mar 30, 2008 @ 11:23:13

    ~FWIW, I didn't think Ms. Stacy was being condescending of this project. I thought she was being matter of fact. [shrug]~

    So did I.

    I read some of the queries and comments. I’ve never done a query, and I don’t know how to do one, so it was just a matter of curiosity. But my reaction generally was: Too many people giving too many opinions–hard for an aspiring/new (which I’m assuming the queries were from) to know which to take in.

    I would say this corresponds to Shannon’s too many cooks comment.

    Otoh, I noticed, often, there were several comments agreeing on one or two points in a query. That could’ve been valuable, if the writer stayed objected and focused enough to see this.

    I didn’t comment on the queries themselves–I think I made a grammar comment on a personal pet peeve–because I don’t know what editors/agents look for in a query. I really don’t. I don’t imagine many readers do either.

    Those who submitted queries were looking for comments–from people who post here–readers, writers, whatever. So that’s fine. That’s what it’s about. I lean in Shannon’s direction as to whether the comments were especially helpful, simply because so many sources, so many opinions.

    I don’t think you can write ANYTHING well or strong when you write by committee. Just my personal opinion. And many will disagree. If one writer got one piece of advice that helped or opened a door to clarity for her, that’s a win for that individual.

    As to taking the criticism hard–let’s give the new/aspiring writer a bit of a break. It takes some time to develop skin thick enough to handle direct criticism. Tough layers don’t simply form because you put your fingers on the keyboard.

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  48. carolyn Jean
    Mar 30, 2008 @ 12:34:40

    I’ve enjoyed query Saturday, but considering the first 100 words of a work would be really valuable on a site like this because it’s something that readers, writers, editors and agents can all contribute different and meaningful things to. And that describes this community.

    Most readers look at the openings as part of their buying decisions, especially in book stores, so their gut reactions are critical, no matter what their industry expertise. Of course many readers here are also writers, agents and editors, with additional potential insights.

    I agree nothing good can be written by committee, but I think part of the process of writing is deciding what comments are useful and discarding the rest. I also think different writers benefit from different levels of feedback, and some work best without a ton of it. But some profit greatly from it.

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  49. MoJo
    Mar 30, 2008 @ 13:03:01

    Am I the only one who finds the lack of offerings the most telling thing about the entire exercise?

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  50. Sue
    Mar 30, 2008 @ 20:39:16

    I was one of the ones who put my query up and I didn’t find it harsh. I found it useful but not as useful as I hoped.

    I wanted what I think Jane was asking for – opinions as to whether, based on the query, a reader would be interested in reading the book. I did get some of that but what I received most of all was a lot of misinterpretation and a critique I’d expect to get from my CPs. The query I submitted has done rather well for me (several partials, one full request at a publisher right now), so I feel, for me, it’s doing it’s job. What I wanted to know is would readers find it interesting.

    Shiloh gave great reader input which helped, I hope, make my query sharper. And Shiloh, you may “suck” at writing queries – but I love you reading them! :D

    And darn it! I really wanted to hear from Nora! :D

    I wanted to do it again – this time for another story I’m playing with since I’m in wait mode on the first one but just didn’t get it finished for Saturday.

    Love the idea of the first 100-250 words – again, not for critiquing but really to get an impression of what a reader may like/not like.

    Love this site!

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  51. Leah
    Mar 31, 2008 @ 12:53:11

    I don’t know how to send links or anything, but Kristin Nelson (of Pub Rants) just mentioned on Romancing the Blog that she is looking for some new romances to represent. Mine is only 1/2 done, plus I don’t think she handles inspirationals, but hey—there’s an opportunity there for someone!!!!

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  52. Kathleen MacIver
    Mar 31, 2008 @ 12:58:50

    Janet Reid (http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/) just posted today that she’s going to do some online query critiquing, and she’s asking for submissions for it, if any of you are interested.

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  53. Laura Elliott
    Apr 02, 2008 @ 06:39:20

    Have we decided to continue with Query Saturday? I’ve written a query which I think is pretty good (who said a writer had to be humble), but I’ve received quite a few rejections from agents. I know that’s to be expected, but I’m a bit disappointed that no one requested sample pages. I’ve done my research on AgentQuery and Publisher’s Marketplace so I’m sure I’m querying the right agents for my work.

    If we are still doing queries, I’ll submit mine for crushing critiquing.

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