Thursday, January 28, 2010

To Hell and Back

By now, most of you have had some good reviews and comments on your query letters. Hopefully, they've been helpful and have allowed you to improve it. If so, we're ready for Stage Two. This is where it gets really nasty. If jello scares you, if you're afraid of Santa Claus, you may want to skip this part. But if you really want to improve, you must take this step. It will be a valuable experience.

I'm sending you away my darlings, temporarily, to a land that shows no mercy. It's a desolate and lonely place. The faint of heart should beware, for in this land words can cut to the quick and pierce your heart. I'm referring to the infamous, the dark and dangerous, Query Letter Hell. It's in the nether regions of a place called Absolute Write. Only those with courage may enter. HERE

When you arrive, you will register as a member. It's free. And it's something I highly recommend, not only for query letters but for everything writing related. There are forums on that site for all genres and instructions out the wazoo for help with just about anything you need. Published authors as well as those still aspiring visit it regularly. Literary agents lurk in the shadows.

After registering, go to the Forums. Scroll down to the section entitled The AW Writing Lab. The top forum in that section is called Share Your Work. (The password is vista.) After clicking there, the third forum down is your ultimate destination — Query Letter Hell. Click it.

Once you arrive in Hell, you will see many posts. These are all query letters waiting to be led to the slaughter. You can click on some and read them to see what the authors are requesting from the demons that are coming. When you're ready, at the top left you will see New Thread. Click that button. Paste your query into the body area. You can put a title on the post if you wish, (I'm new. Help me. Be gentle. or whatever you wish to type.) You can add some copy above your query in the body area, asking for a review or critique. If there's something specific you'd like to ask, you can add that as well. It's up to you what you ask for.

Then you wait for the devils to come. They will shread your query to ribbons with their sharp tongues. It may take a few hours, but check back to see what comments have been left. And don't get discouraged if they're nasty. Sometimes they are, but they're usually brutally honest and aimed at making your query as good as it can get. And that's what you want. Right? So take heart, my innocent lambs, and go boldly to the sacrificial altar. My thoughts will be with you.

Tomorrow I will post the details of the contest. At this point, I'm thinking of opening the entries on Saturday morning. Hopefully by that time you will have been to Hell and returned with a much improved query letter. I'm only sending you there to get several more sets of eyes on it and help make your query as good as it can possibly be for the contest.

After all, you're the only reason I'm here. So give us a hug, and be on your way, braveheart. Oh, I almost forgot! Be sure to stop back this afternoon. I'll be posting a very exciting announcement you don't want to miss!


  1. Squirrels! They're squirrels, not devils. And they are very, very frank squirrels (though not named Frank, so far as I know).

    Watch out for the bazooka.

  2. And if our queries have already gone through QLH?

  3. Great post! Love Absolute Write too. I can see I'm going to have to drop by your blog often for tea and crumpets. (You do have crumpets, don't you?) Lots of great posts and sage advice! Thanks!


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