August 4, 2010

The Evolution of a Query, Part III

Here is a quick timeline of my query evolution so far:

Query #1
April to mid-May 2009
6 queries, 0 requests

Query #2
Mid-May to June 2009
15 queries, 1 full request

Which brings us now to Query #3...

After my abysmal failures for Query #1 and Query #2, I decided to hold off on querying for awhile. I needed some time to think. Time to lick my wounds. Time to gird my loins for my next foray into querying hell. (Hehe, "loins" is a funny word.)

But before I could girdeth my loins, I hit a road bump. A big road bump. In July 2009, I attended the Highlights Conference in Chautauqua and I had my novel critiqued by an editor there. The editor really loved my prologue, but she wanted me to completely re-write the beginning of my manuscript (basically the first 1/3 of the book). Aieeee! It was really sobering advice, but I agreed with her. And so, I started the long arduous task of hitting delete and filling up the white space.

Which brings us now to Query #3.

Once my re-writing and revisions were complete, I decided to jump into the querying world once again. Starting in October 2009, I sent out about 7 copies of Query #3 and nervously awaited the response. Here's the query:

When twelve-year-old Danny Singer finds an alien standing on his front porch, he realizes his math homework is the least of his problems. For one thing, Danny always thought that aliens could only exist in comic books and “Star Trek” re-runs. And for another, he can’t seem to get rid of the blue-skinned extraterrestrial, who insists on delivering an urgent message.

Unfortunately, Danny is in for some bad news. The solar system’s most feared enemy, the Locusts, are plotting to destroy everything from Mercury to Pluto. And even scarier? Danny may know how to defeat the ten-foot-tall bugs. To his complete shock, he is the only person who can wield a powerful weapon—a sword with the ability to reveal an enemy’s weakness.

Danny decides to ditch his trumpet lessons and join an army of alien knights, who teach him how to use his new blade. But with the Locusts creeping closer to the Earth, Danny must figure out the bugs’ lone weakness before they obliterate his planet. And to do this, he has to square off against the Locust King himself.


I made some big changes to Query #3 since my book had evolved so much since my first two querying attempts. First, no more "smelly bully" to taunt Danny. Second, I completely re-wrote the first paragraph. And third, I changed the focus from Danny's father to Danny's ability to wield a secret weapon. I thought, perhaps, that this weapon detail would catch an agent's fancy.

Turns out, I was wrong.

This query isn't terrible, but it wasn't good enough to get the job done. I received ZERO requests from this query. Nada. Noooooo!

Looking back at it now, I see some weaknesses in Query #3. It needs a catchier hook. It needs a stronger ending (something that makes an agent say, "OMG, what's going to happen?!). And it needs to get to the action a bit faster since the first para kind of drags on and is kind of confusing.

Dejected once again, I decided to re-write my query after I received all of my rejections. Which led to...Query #4!

To be posted tomorrow!

3 comments:

  1. This is so cool of you to do this!!

    So many writers give up after that first batch, but it's always important to keep going. And congrats on being willing to rewrite all that! I think I would've passed out.

    Or killed the editor :)

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  2. I love this little journey we're going on! Can't wait to read #4.

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  3. So far, I liked #1 the best.

    I have to ask, were you sending sample pages along with the query?

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