Monday, March 4, 2013

Where Do You Go for Query Feedback?


In my last post, I listed quite a few resources for getting your query into shape. But once you've polished your query or pitch to shiny perfection, you'll need someone to give you helpful feedback.

It's preferable to find at least one reader who has not read the actual book. This way they can tell you where they got lost, where they may have misinterpreted plot elements, whether they could keep the characters straight. Here are some places you might find just the feedback you're looking for:

Absolute Write's Query Letter Hell (you'll need to register to be able to see the Share Your Work forum, where Query Letter Hell lives)
Nathan Bransford's forums
Verla Kay's Boards
Ladies Who Critique
Query Tracker's Forum

Any of these can help you get some fresh eyes on the page, but only post if you're ready to hear honest feedback--because you're likely to get it!

Conferences big and small almost always have query critique opportunities, public or private. Plus, some paid editorial services offer free query critiques as a way to see if their style is a good match for yours. And many writing-related auctions (like my upcoming Pens for Paws Auction) are offering chances at critiques and feedback from agents.

If you still want more, there are places to get your query publicly shredded (or better yet, learn from other people's mistakes before yours gets a chance to see the light of day):
Evil Editor
Query Shark
Miss Snark's blog
The Rejecter
You cannot submit to those last two for critique since they're no longer active, but I highly recommend working through the archives.

Any query blunders you'd like to share to save the rest of us from making the same mistakes? Confession: my first query was two printed pages long, because I got clever and combined a one-page synopsis with my bio. Don't try this at home!

18 comments:

  1. Those sound like great resources. Also, WriteOnCon is doing a pitch conference right now and people can get feedback in the forums.

    Oh, getting the hook right and summarizes the conflict in an interesting fashion for a fantasy story are what I'm struggling with right now.

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  2. Thanks for the recap, and Natalie, for the reminder about WriteonCon. Also Matt McNish critiques queries over at the Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment. He's looked at one of mine before. :-)

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  3. Another great resource for query feedback is AgentQueryConnect.com. Really great community over there!

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  4. Great post! I love the Query Shark blog. I read all 236 (probably more now) queries and it helped me when I was writing my own. Great learning experience. I can't wait to check out the other resources. :)

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  5. Thanks for the tips on Matt McNish's and AgentQueryConnect's query crits! Keep 'em coming.

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  6. This is more of a reference point, but I found agent Kristin Nelson's blog Pub Rants, to be really helpful because she dissects her own client's query letters and talks about which elements within them made her request and why. Can be useful to see how the agent thinks as he or she reads.

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  7. Great resources! Thanks! My biggest querying mistake was not doing my homework and reading the agent's blog or searching for interviews in which the agent stated what he or she wanted or didn't want. I later discovered, to my chagrin, that the agent was not looking for the type of manuscript I queried.

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  8. Good links, thanks! I usually go to my writing groups first, and then if I think it needs fine tuning I look around some more. So thanks for the information.

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  9. I love the links. Thanks! I also think a good pitch line added to your query works wonders.

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  10. How about Operation Awesome wants to do a query critique? Huh? Huh? Huh? Wink, wink.

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  11. Such great comments! It's funny you mention that, Deirdre, because we've been trying to decide what kind of critiques to include in our OA item for Pens for Paws Auction. But now that there are 14 of us, it seemed like it would be overwhelming to get 14 opinions on one query! We're trying to mix it up a little bit for our package. But maybe if I run out of post ideas, I'll put out a call for victims, er volunteers, and do a query crit then.

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  12. Oh, just spotted that Peter Knapp of Park Literary is doing one of his personal feedback submission windows today through the 6th.
    "Any middle grade or young adult query sent between 5pm EST on Monday, March 4th and 5pm EST on Wednesday, March 6th that both follows our agency's submission guidelines AND includes the phrase "Feedback Giveaway" in the subject will receive a short, personal reply."
    see http://peteknapp.blogspot.com/p/contests.html

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  13. Angelica--thank you so much for the link to the feedback giveway! This is perfect.

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  14. You're welcome, Rosalyn! Perfect timing, isn't it? And Pete is great.

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  15. I've heard he gives helpful feedback. Thanks for the info about the giveaway. I sent mine this morning!

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  16. Good luck, Tiffany! And yes--I took part in the WriteOnCon query feedback with Pete last year, and actually got a request from it (unfortunately it wasn't finished at that time).

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  17. Bummer that it wasn't finished! I'd guess it was good to know you were on the right track though:)

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  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

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