Query Shark Advice Distilled


For those of you reading through the massive archive of Query Shark advice looking for the unique points I have pulled out her most common criticisms and compiled them into a query letter:

Dear Query Shark,

Ronald White sold his soul to write the world’s best novel. After a weekend writing in a satanic frenzy, Ron’s powers are spent but true to their deal he has his book. Ron should have asked for a query letter too. Who could have known Satan knew so much about the publishing industry?

Ron has to do the one thing he never could – learn to write. And avoid freak accidents which seem intent on killing him before he can live to see his book in stores.

a plug about why you are contacting that agent. The one exception: “I’m Charles Dickens and I have a Nobel Prize in literature,” or “I’m the guy who pulled you out of a burning building and you promised to read my pages.” If there is something about you that would force the agent to read pages then say so.>

At 250 words , a Query Letter is .

With paragraphs of three sentences and 80 words per paragraph max. Ron must eliminate unnecessary words, redundant ideas (see above), and keep his query under 250 words. He doesn’t have a word to waste.

Certain mistakes will mean instant rejection and damnation: misspellings or typos; using a word incorrectly; or having a sentence with a missing noun/verb.

Desperate for help, Ron asks Satan for writing advice.

Satan tells to simply tell what is going to happen in the novel and use a lot of punchy, edgy, adjectives so agents know how exciting and appealing the work will be and not to be shy about introducing side characters from the novel: Danny the plucky teen with a troubled past, Ashley the suicidal walking cliche who has a nose ring and is secretly in love with the author – I mean main character, and Runon Sentence who people rarely actually paid attention to – and i bet you are not even reading anymore are you?

I have spent the last week reading all of the Query Shark’s past reviews and working on my query letter at the same time. I wanted to provide a top level summary to assist folks but it’s no substitute to reading it all yourself.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



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