Thursday, February 16, 2006

Curious about Queries?

So this week I've been working on my website and roughing together some ideas for queries. My copy of the "Canadian Writer's Market" showed up last week and I plowed through it. It doesn't quite have all the information that I want so I'm trying to find a few books on writing queries and outlines and all that good stuff. I don't think that all of the answers can be found in how-to books, but my personal opinion has always been that if I get one useful piece of information out of a book, it was a good buy. (Of course, this might just be a way for me to justify buying so many books. Not that I have a problem or anything).

I've been researching Canadian lit agents, and - holy bleep - we don't have very many. There are some online listings at: http://www.writersunion.ca/cla.html and http://www.publishers.ca/publishing-literary-agents.htm. There are probably 20 agencies in total, so that doesn't bode all that well for me as an "emerging" (aka unpub'd/unknown/nobody) writer.

Hand in hand with my research on agents, I've been taking a peek on how to write queries, and I've come accross some interesting links in my travels:

Writer Max Barry has a fairly sparse section on queries, but some good links on his site. His description of queries highlights two key factors; (1) queries are damn important, and (2) keep your sense of humour at the ready: "(t)he idea of a query letter is to take this book you've written, this incomparable masterpiece that took five years and destroyed your marriage, and summarize it on a single piece of paper while still leaving enough room in the margins for a publisher or agent to scribble, 'Sorry, not for us.'" http://www.maxbarry.com/writing/help.html#query.

Writer Holly Lisle has some interesting writerly-type info on her site, including a section on queries: http://www.hollylisle.com/fm/Articles/agent2.html.

Nicholas Sparks (author of "The Notebook") also chimes in at http://www.nicholassparks.com/WritersCorner/Query.html. I have to confess I haven't read the book, but I did catch the movie. It's not for me, but you can't argue with his success.

So basically, I'm going to spend the next while coming up with a hook like: “Sarah...has never had a steady boyfriend, a good hair day, or three dead bodies to explain." My character has never had a steady boyfriend, or a good hair day. The three bodies will be a little harder to write in, though.

And, finally, my personal favourite link of the week - seeing as how I'm a complete and total nobody - "The Complete Nobody's Guide to Query Letters".

I'll be putting some more links up on my website when I get it up and running.

On another note, I'm still feeling farily optimistic about everything, so either I'm a total idjit or I really enjoy this stuff. (And no, you don't get to vote on that).

Cheers,
Maia

8 comments:

BHJ said...

...either I'm a total idjit or I really enjoy this stuff. (And no, you don't get to vote on that).

Awww..... c'mon... I wanna vote! ;-)

Naive said...

I can't believe I just read all of your blog entries! Your writing style, sense of humor as well as your interests really had me hooked - and I can't believe I was hooked on a blog (no offense) *wince*.

Also just saw your comment, way back, about trading/borrowing/lending novels. That would be so cool - I've run out of excuses to buy stacks of books at a time - and though I love my child, I'm getting bored of buying those baby cardboard books while salivating over a novel on the shelf :)

Mr-Mystic said...

If buying to many books is a problem, then Mrs. Mystic needs to go to buy to many books anonymous

Maia said...

BHJ:

NO VOTE!

:)

Maia said...

Naive:

Hee :)

Sounds great about book swapping.
Cheers,
M

Maia said...

Mr Mystic:

Kind of makes you wonder how the intervention would go, eh?

"I saw your Visa bill! I know you bought the new Stephen King!"

:)

Abel said...

Is there a reason you're only sending to Canadian agents? Why not agents in the US as well?

Maia said...

Hey Abel.

That's a good question. I was under the impression that US agents weren't particularly interested in Canadian writers. Although I certainly hope that that's wrong, I'd love to get pub'd in the US :)

Cheers,
Maia