By now, you have all the pieces of your query. Your pitch is engaging, tantalizing, and specific to your story. It showcases your protagonist’s voice and demonstrates exactly what kind of trouble they’re about to get themselves in. Your housekeeping is concise and to the point and clearly communicates the nuts and bolts of your manuscript genre and audience. Your bio is personable without being overly-familiar, and it lists your qualifications and experience as they are relevant to your novel. You’ve even trimmed the fat out to turn your query into a lean, mean, interest-inviting machine! That wasn’t too hard, was it?
Now what? The next step is to make sure that your prose is the absolute best it can be. Here’s a couple ways to shine up your query even further.
- Read your query out loud. Where do you trip up your sentences? Where does it sound unnatural, repetitive, or stagnant? Make notes and fix it.
- Record yourself or have someone read it to you. See if it sounds different to you when you’re not the one reading it.
- Give the query to a brand-new reader that you trust, someone who doesn’t know your story. Are they interested in reading more? Are they confused by the way you have your query set up or the phrases that you use?
- Play jigsaw with your query. Are the sentences in the best possible order? What happens if you move this sentence from late in the query to earlier? Experiment a little with the structure, and see if it shakes new ideas loose.
- Personalize the query to the agent you’re intending to send it to. If they represent your favorite author, mention it. If your book has an element to it that they said on their blog that they like, tell them that. If you saw them speak at a panel and it really struck a chord with you, bring that up.