Shannon Stacey

Snow, earbuds and query letters

Another foot of snow. That’s one good thing about being on winter break—we’re not getting dinged for yet another snow day.

Scalzi has confessed to having non-earbud-friendly ears. It’s so nice not to be the only person who can’t pull off that hip and sleek earbud look. I have to use full headphones, dammit.

I’ve been following Dear Author’s Saturday Query series, though probably for all the wrong reasons. It kills me to read those entries/comments.

Those aren’t query letter blurbs. And, in my ever so humble opinion, the very worst thing any writer can do is open any aspect of her work to criticism from a mass committee. Comment after comment giving very negative reaction to what’s being critiqued as back cover copy, to story elements, to grammar and spelling. (Not that critiquing grammar and spelling is a bad thing.) Misinformation. (You never spell out the ending in a query letter blurb. Please.) Conflicting information. The queries were beaten down, but not built back up. And I worry that, due to Google ranking or whatever, those will come up in a query how-to search and new writers will try to learn from them.

Other than a few comments by authors who tried to help only to be drowned out, I haven’t seen anything I’d consider helpful in writing a query letter.

The query letter blurb is one paragraph—the best paragraph you’ve ever written in your life. Showcase the book’s voice, it’s hook, that special something that makes it different than the other thousands of queries crossing the editor’s desk.

It is not a synopsis. It is not back cover copy.

I think for this Friday’s Weekend Question, I’m going to write a mock query letter for…I don’t know, a movie maybe. Or I’ll make up a book. Then maybe we can analyze some of the elements in the comments, share some of what has worked and what hasn’t for other authors.

6 comments to “Snow, earbuds and query letters”

  1. Jackie C
      · February 27th, 2008 at 11:35 am · Link

    :clap: Sounds like an excellent,helpful plan. I will be here to learn. :type:

  2. Charlene
      · February 27th, 2008 at 12:01 pm · Link

    Nice plan, Shan. And you nailed what a query blurb should do.

  3. Melani Blazer
      · February 27th, 2008 at 2:11 pm · Link

    :shrug: on the whole query thing. I think I read one.

    Re: Earbuds–try looping them over the back of your ear and then in (upside down-ish) That’s the only way I can use them without using duct tape to make them stick. :bang:

  4. Lynn
      · February 28th, 2008 at 12:55 am · Link

    “And, in my ever so humble opinion, the very worst thing any writer can do is open any aspect of her work to criticism from a mass committee. ”

    Like, say, publishing it? (ducking)

  5. vanessa jaye
      · February 28th, 2008 at 12:56 am · Link

    Great idea for the mock query, Shan.

    Earbuds never stay in for me either. And I honest ta gawd thought it was only me who had the freakishly tiny ear canals. lol.

  6. Shannon
      · February 28th, 2008 at 10:08 am · Link

    Like, say, publishing it? (ducking)


    Okay, but you know what I meant.

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