Querying is a tough, sometimes soul-crushing business—and writing a query letter can in many ways be the most difficult part. After all, being asked to condense your 60-100k (or more?) manuscript into a page-long letter that makes your book sound intriguing and also personalizes to that specific agent with the teeny tiny stakes of the agent reading your manuscript (or not)? It’s ridiculously tough.
I’ve read my fair share of query letters over the years, and with the WriteOnCon query critique forums still fresh in my mind, I thought now as good a time as ever to write about five things you don’t need in your query.
- Explanation of the lessons the reader/your characters will learn. I understand the impulse to include this, I do—English teachers have told us for years that a book isn’t really literary gold unless it has some grand, over-arching, bigger than thyself message. But here’s the thing—even if your book does have that kind of message (and, um, you know what it is?), it’s best to leave it out of your query letter.
Now, I can already hear what you’re thinking (apparently my online self is a telepath)—but Ava, I worked so hard to get those messages into my book—why wouldn’t I talk about them? The why is pretty simple actually: 99% of the time writers include the message or lesson the characters or readers (or both) are going to learn when reading their book in their query letter, it sounds preachy—and worse, it sounds like your manuscript is preachy (or teacher-y, which isn’t any better), which leads to a ginormous no thank you.
I know that seems a little unfair. It’s totally possible that you have messages in your book that aren’t preachy at all and are woven really nicely into the story, and if that’s the case, that’s great, it really is. But don’t mention it in your query if you don’t want someone to assume your book is going to be preachy/teachy.
- Vague phrases. I actually wrote a whole post about why details are so important in queries and pitches, so I won’t rehash the whole thing, but in queries, vague phrases are you enemy. Mentioning your protagonist’s dark secret or life-changing quest or how they meet a mysterious stranger or will have to make alife-altering choice whose consequences will affect all of humanity? Yeah, it’s not helpful.
The thing is, agents and editors read thousands of queries a year. They have books getting pitched to them all the time and the only way you’re going to pique their interest is if you show them how your book is unique. If your query is full of vague phrases, not only can I guarantee they’ve seen someone else (or many many many someone elses) describe their manuscript the same exact way, but you’re completely missing out on a vital opportunity to show them how your book stands out from the crowd.
- Quotes from your manuscript. I did this in my first ever query (spoiler: it so didn’t work), and it’s something I’ve seen especially amongst new writers.
Again, I get the temptation: you’ve worked so very hard on your manuscript and you want to share some gems with the agent/editor in the hopes that it’ll pique their interest. But the query is not the place to show off your writing (or at least, not the writing of your manuscript)—the query is the place to explain your manuscript in a condensed, interesting way to make the reader want to learn more (and hopefully read) your book.
But Ava, you’re thinking (boy, telepathy is fun), this super amazing quote isn’t in the first sample that I’m attaching to the query letter. What if they don’t see my really awesome quote because they don’t read enough? Well, my friend, I’m going to share a little tough love: if they don’t read far enough to get to your super awesome quote it’s because a) it wasn’t for them b) your query wasn’t strong enough to represent your manuscript or c) your manuscript wasn’t ready.
Leave the quotes for the actual manuscript. Your query is not the place for them.
- A huge bio. Let me start off by saying that bios are definitely important—and a vital part of the query. However, the focus of the query letter should absolutely be on your manuscript. Not you.
Your bio should be a few sentences to a paragraph long. That’s it. And that paragraph, quite frankly, really doesn’t need to take up all that much space.
Agents don’t need to know that you worked on this book for four years. They don’t need to know that your mom thought it was the best book she ever read, or that you won that online poetry award, or that you’ve known since kindergarten that you were meant to be a writer. All that should be in your bio are publishing or manuscript-related credentials (i.e.: you’re writing a medical drama and you’re a surgeon, or you’ve published short stories in The Glimmer Train, etc.). If you don’t have publishing credentials, that’s totally okay! Just say it’s your first book (or, you know, don’t? There’s some debate on this point) and let your manuscript do the talking (no debate on that one).
- Anything in either of thesetwo posts. Self-explanatory, really. For your sake, (and the agents’ sakes) don’t do anything in those posts. Please.
What would you add to the list?
Just a note: If you are querying you do NOT put your query as an attachment. I’ve been an editor for years and I delete crap with attachments unless I know you or requested it. Sorry.
And NEVER call to find out. Never call an editor unless they called you and asked you to.
EA is giving Dragon Age Origins away free
Log into your Origin account and grab it if you don’t have it.
YOU ALL ASKED FOR IT, AND IT’S FINALLY DONE!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to give out my package folder, wow. It took forever to clean it up, but here it is! I haven’t played Sims 3 as much lately and nearly shit myself when visiting the game after switching to 4. There are a few hundred files and take up a lot of room so consider that before downloading. A few files corrupted when moving them to Dropbox, which I think were just slider doubles. Also, I do NOT take credit for any of the things here! It’s just simply my collection of downloads over the past year or so. I hope you all enjoy, if there is ever any sim you specially want please just message me and I’d be more than happy to get it to you. Enjoy my babies ♥
Yep. Love that you used our stuff but this isn’t playing nice. Delete the CWS Browlines too please.
So apparently my content is being hosted on a site that makes you pay to download it …. Don’t download , let’s not support this .
Yeah, they’ve taken a lot of mods and put them on…
That is so wrong. They won’t even take it down even though you’re the creator?
That site is honestly out of control they want you to pay like 10 dollars for some things plus 5 to make a subscription with the website in the first place, now if the content isn’t even theirs and they’re using it without permission that’s even worse, it’s the equivalent of what happened with the That’s Life for sims 1 where they stole people’s content and sold it on a disk, it’s the same basic thing, because it’s without permission.
After asking to get it taken down I got this back “It’s EA’s content :) do you work for EA?”
DO NOT FUND THIS WEBSITE.
Wow. I am ashamed of being one of the first members on that site..
Stealing cc that a creator shares for free and charging others for it, that is the most scumbag thing ever. Spread the word and don’t support this site.
Everyone reblog this! This isn’t fair to these creators. What a disgusting website. I really hope this gets taken down. How dare you take these peoples creations and make people pay for it. Have you no shame?
bastards, make your own cc
Hi, I’m Nilxis, a world creator, and I have a problem. Some days ago I noticed my Mediafire account was suspended and I had no longer access to my worlds. (Read more about it here). I had some of them in my computer but the other versions are lost. If you have a version of one of my worlds, I’d be eternally grateful if you could upload it and send me a link. Here’s a list of all the versions I have and the ones I don’t have:
(“THIS”means I already have it, and “THIS” means I don’t have it so if you do, please upload it)
Saaqartoq Spanish Unpopulated
Saaqartoq Spanish Populated
Saaqartoq English Unpopulated
Saaqartoq English Populated
Plav Raj versions: (completed)
Plav Raj Spanish Unpopulated
Plav Raj English Unpopulated(Thanks Aminovas!)
Plav Raj CC File
Empordà Spanish Unpopulated
Empordà Spanish Populated
Empordà English Unpopulated
Empordà English Populated
Empordà CC File
Ziwa Bonde versions:
Ziwa Bonde Spanish Unpopulated
Ziwa Bonde Spanish Populated
Ziwa Bonde English Unpopulated
Ziwa Bonde English Populated
Ziwa Bonde CC File
Suvadiva Resort versions:
Suvadiva Resort Spanish Unpopulated
Suvadiva Resort English Unpopulated
Sa Pineda versions: (completed)
Sa Pineda English Populated
Isla Kalooni versions:
Isla Kalooni Spanish Populated
Kalooni Island English Populated
Costa-Sol Spanish Unpopulated
The files I’m looking for are the .sims3pack files you have in your Electronic Arts/Sims 3/Downloads folder
Send me a private message or contact me via e-mail here.
Please help spread this post and reblog so I can upload my worlds again and we can all enjoy them. Thank you so much for your support, we can make it! :)
I hope you get them all back! <3
A teaser of what I’m up to… hoping it gets done in time for SIFF, but if not, it won’t be long
VA: Christian Gaughf