If you’re an aspiring author and have not yet encountered Query Shark, stop whatever you’re doing–no… wait… you’re reading this blog, so DON’T stop what you’re doing… CONTINUE reading!
Query Shark is, I think, the most useful resource on the internet for writers. The primary purpose of the blog is to help writers write the best query they can. But in doing this, Query Shark unloads a ton of excellent writing tips that can improve your novel, not just your query. Since Query Shark was just named one of Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers (see the latest edition of Writer’s Digest), I thought it appropriate to celebrate it for today’s A-to-Z Blogging Challenge letter.
Query Shark is the brain-child of Janet Reid, one of the literary agents at Fine Print Literary Management. Janet receives countless queries from aspiring authors every day, some of which immediately get her attention, but most of which are rejected after only a few lines. To help writers understand where they’re going wrong with their querying, Janet set up Query Shark–a place where writers can submit queries purely for review. Anyone submitting their query must be willing to see it ripped to shreds before the whole world. But Janet’s main purpose is not sadistic pleasure at torturing poor helpless writers. Her primary purpose is to help people improve their querying skills–and often their writing skills. She points out the flaws so they can be corrected. She invites people to revise their queries based on her comments, and resubmit them to the site.
Submitting a query to Query Shark is not an official query submission to Janet, so she doesn’t care about the genre. She knows enough about the industry to know what constitutes a good query for memoir, picture book, MG, YA, etc. A submission to Query Shark is a request for help writing a query.
That doesn’t mean Janet won’t sign someone based on a Query Shark submission. Dan Krokos impressed Janet enough with his Query Shark offering that she requested the manuscript, and eventually signed him. You can read about his story here, and listen to Janet talking about Query Shark and Dan Krokos in this BBC World Service interview.
I may not be the best query writer in the world, but it’s thanks to the Query Shark archives that I understand the purpose of a query letter, what a query letter needs to say, and how to be a better writer generally.
Have you benefited from Query Shark? What’s your go-to site for query or general writing help?