Let's say you've written out your first million words of dreck, and can actually write salable ficton. Let's say you applied your craft and wrote an 800 page epic fantasy with a specific market in mind. Let's say it took you four years to construct this tome. Let's say the day came and you fired this masterpiece off to the publisher you had in mind. And for the purpose of this discussion, let's say they got back to you the following day with a very kind, but very firm message, something alone the lines that they'd just published a mammoth epic fantasy and didn't have the need for one at the moment, would you possibly have something in a nice Mystery Romance, like the old tv show Moonlighting?
If you really loved that publisher and had your heart set on being published with them, it's not entirely unlikely that among the many thoughts going through your head at the moment, one of them might be "I wish I'd known that before I invested four years going in the wrong direction."This is one of many reasons why now is a great time to start investigating the art of the query. (One imagines that as the speed of publishing escalates in a digital age, having such conversations with publishers up front will become even more valuable.) If you've spent your time up to this point honing your writing chops, now's the perfect time to start sharpening your marketing chops, and the query is one of the primary tools that should be in your bag of tricks.
Author and speaker Mary DeMuth knows about queries. She's written a free guide called Queries Now to help you navigate the next step of your journey to publication. You can grab it from her store on her page of free resources.
In the dictionary, a query is a question, an inquiry. In marketing, a query is a business message sent to a publisher that pitches your idea to an agent or editor. I think of a query as a ping, an expression of interest in a mutually-beneficial project.
Of course, it's not as a simple as all that. You have to know what you're doing. That's where Queries Now helps you with the heavy lifting.
Mary explains what a query is, why one should consider crafting a query, when not to query, and gives examples of what the format of successful queries is and step-by-step directions on how to craft one. Mary also provides detailed examples of targeted fiction, magazines, and non-fiction queries.
She even provides an example of an author who writes the piece first and then queried afterward, which may give you hope for that 800 page epic fantasy after all.
Linda Apple is the author of Writing From Your Soul, Writing Life ~ Your Stories Matter, Connect ~ A Simple Guide to Public Speaking for Writers, POW; Promises Kept and Women Of Washington Avenue, her debut novel and the first book in her Moonlight Mississippi series. Her personal experience stories have been published in 16 of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her devotions have been published in numerous devotion magazines and books. She lives in Fayetteville Arkansas with her husband, Neal, their five children, five children-in-love, and ten grandchildren.
Jody Bailey Day writes inspirational fiction from west Texas. Her debut novel, Washout Express, released June 2013 from Harbourlight Books. Her short stories, poems, devotionals, and articles have appeared in Mature Living, Splickety Magazine, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Southern Writers Magazine, and Christiandevotions.us, She is a two time Grand Prize Winner at the East Texas Christian Writers Conference, and a Faithwriters.com Best of the Best award winner. She and her pastor husband have six grown children and nine grandchildren.
Deborah Dee Harper writes from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, by way of Michigan, Kentucky, Alaska, Mississippi, and Alaska (again). Deb is a graduate of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild classes and writes Christian humorous and inspirational books for both children and adults. Her children’s adventure series, Laramie on the Lam, available in both e-book and print, is being re-published as six individual print books. Her Road’s End series (Misstep, Faux Pas, and Misjudge) for adults is also contracted and should be published soon. She is currently nearing completion on the first book of another series. She is represented by Terry Burns of Hartline Literary Agency.
Lisa Lickel is an award-winning multi-published inspirational novelist, blogger, reviewer, and writing mentor. A freelance editor, Lisa loves all things historical. Her work has appeared in Writer's Digest and Christian Fiction Online.
Liberty Speidel has been a voracious reader since reading her first Nancy Drew book. But she was telling stories long before then with her figurines from Disney's Rescue Rangers. When she's not writing, you may find her gardening, baking, crocheting, or hiking. A lifelong Kansan, she now resides in the Kansas City metro area with her husband, children, and chocolate Labrador, where she could rival Captain Jean Luc Picard in consumption of Earl Grey tea. She is the author of Emergence, Retaliation, and Capitulation, novellas and novels in her series featuring superhuman and police detective Darby Shaw.
Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterwards, he earned a PhD in English literature (Renaissance) and for eighteen years taught literature at two liberal arts colleges. His poetry has appeared in leading journals and is collected in his book Dust and Diamond: Poems of Earth and Beyond.His fiction includes a light-hearted mystery, Rhapsody in Red, and two suspense novels, Deadly Addictive and The Lazarus File, and a historical romance, Lightning on a Quiet Night. He is a frequent speaker at writers’ groups and conferences. He lives near Houston, TX, where he continues to write fiction and poetry, as well as essays on writing, ethical issues, and U.S. foreign policy.
Editor/Author Linda Yezak lives with her husband in a forest in east Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She is a speaker/lecturer for various writers' groups and conferences. Her fiction books include Give the Lady a Ride, The Final Ride, and The Cat Lady's Secret. Her nonfiction books include Writing in Obedience, co-written with retired Hartline Literary agent Terry Burns. "Slider," her historical short-story, won Honorable Mention in The Saturday Evening Post's Great American Fiction contest and is published in their 2016 Anthology.
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