Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Query Letter Critique Groups

Now that you've read the good, the bad, and the ugly of queries, I have one last suggestion . . . query critique groups.

I've made this suggestion at numerous writers' conferences and I will bet that no one has ever followed through on it (if you have, please let me know, I'm curious how it works). Just as everyone has a critique group or critique partner, every single one of you should have a query critique group. This group needs to be completely separate from the one you use to read your book and needs to be made up of people who have never read your book. The idea is that when you read each other's queries, you aren't looking as much for grammatical errors as you are to see if your letter really grabs someone and makes them want to read your book—in the same way book cover copy should grab your attention and make you want to buy the book. This is much easier to do when the person doing the critique doesn't already know the ins and outs of your book.

Having a query critique group will help you narrow down your book description to one paragraph—the one that needs to be exciting, eye-catching, and make an agent want to drop everything and read!

—Jessica

7 comments:

Jodie said...

On my writer's forum (Romance Divas) people post up their queries in the crique section. We even have a query contest that helps us make our work shine even more. I agree, you have to send it out to someone who hasn't read your book. if you're part of a writer's forum post it there. With the number to subscribers, you'll find a lot of help in doing it.

Cindy Procter-King said...

That's a good idea, Jessica. I belong to a brainstorming group, and we pass our synopses by each other. I didn't think of the query letter angle, though.

Cindy

Loralee said...

Something to think about. My active critique group consists of two other published writers, but I like the idea of having a query read by someone who isn't familiar with my writing. Maybe someone who isn't a writer at all - just a reader. Hmmm!

Loralee L.

L.L. Bartlett said...

My Sisters In Crime Chapter, The Guppies (www.sinc-guppies.org), has a subgroup devoted to finding an agent. As a member, you can have your query and/or synopsis critiqued by some of the 100+ members. More than a few members have gained agents through this process.

Jaye Wells said...

What a great idea. Thanks for the tip.

Karen MacInerney said...

That's a fabulous idea; in fact, any group that can help you survive the whole agent-hunting process is a godsend. (I think Maggie Sefton just blogged about that on Cozy Chicks.) Actually my critique group does query letters, synopses, you name it. And my husband is, if not the most tactful critic in the world, at least a good litmus test. When I gave him a synopsis a few months ago, he read it and said, "So, is this supposed to sell the book?"

To my credit, I did not hit him. I did, however, do just a wee bit of revision.

Michele Lee said...

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It's a blog, but it's occasionally eyed by Miss Snark.