Friday, May 20, 2011

♥.•*¨ A Formula for Queries? ¨*•.♥

I hope you don't think I'm cheap by reposting this, but I think it's a perfect fit for FFW's topic. I've updated it as well, so I hope it's better now!

You can see what the other Fantastic Friday Writers have to say about query letters. Alex J. Cavanaugh, Anastasia V. Pergakis,  J. D. BrownDeirdra Eden-Coppel, M. Pax,  Jeffrey Beesler, Charlene A. Wilson, and Andrew J. Cooper! 

First off, when I create my query letters, I keep it to 3 paragraphs. Always make sure that it is written to the right agent. I know I wouldn't want a query letter on a horror novel when I only handle children's picture books, so make sure you do your research and get it to the right person!

Para #1: A simple logline, the book title, genre and word count.
Para #2: A short, but catchy blurb
Para#3: Your credentials

Don't forget all your email addresses, and phone numbers!

Okay, now for the meat, but we'll start with the bread. ;)

How is the food pyramid like a query letter? Well, let's see. The broadest part bread, cereal, rice & pastas with the most servings a day is at the bottom. So on so forth with a "Use Sparingly" at the top.


Darvell Hunt introduced this formula in my writers group, though it isn't a new concept:


It's an upside down pyramid that is very much like food pyramid.

Journalists and other writers use the "inverted pyramid" to show where the most important stuff goes within text. This is a common way for writing news stories for journalism students!

I feel the reason why we have a hard time writing queries is because (and I quote Darvell because he said it SO sufficiently I'm afraid to mess it up): 

"I think this style very much applies to writing queries, but not so much to writing fiction--and therein lies a possible reason why we fiction writers have such a difficult time writing queries. We think in terms of the path of the story rather than supplying important information quickly. Queries are really non-fiction--a business letter, if you will--and we should write them as such."

Bravo! Well said, Darvell!

So, what do you think? Do you agree that it could be a formula to query letter writing?


  1. I think Darvell is absolutely correct! Great post, Elizabeth!

  2. Absolutely - as you said, journalists have been using this formula for writing new-stories for ages. Great reminder to all writers. Thank you :)

  3. Kbrebes, I'm so glad that he let me use his idea here, I thought he was brilliant!

    Sue, you're welcome! I hope this helps everyone and makes it a bit easier to handle the maddening query race! ;)

  4. Great post - saving on hard drive and printing :)

  5. Great unique way to look at it. I'm sure this will be helpful to those querying. I'll go tweet about it. :D

  6. That is an exelent formula to keep in mind when writing a query! And you (and Darvell) are write. Quereis are completely different than fiction.

  7. This is a great help!!! Yay!! Thank you for sharing! I think queries are definitely a creative form of business letter writing! Take care

  8. to write perchance to query perchance to sleep.

    you keep egging me on elizabeth so i return to paint on your wall! on your site i feel like a graffiti artist in the middle of the night looking over his shoulder. i'll do some stuff and maybe she won't catch me!

    its great though what you're doing for writers. i don't know how you find the time.


  9. Queries are just difficult, formula or no - still, formulas can help a whole bunch. :)

  10. Wow! What a great visual formula! Thanks for sharing! :)

  11. Vanilla Mom, great idea! I'm happy this helped!

    Lisa, I'm happy that it's helpful. I think that's a great idea!

    Taryn, so true, isn't? Having to remove what we've hammered into our head for so long a time, it's great to step out of that thinking. :D

    Jennifer, thank you! *hugs*

    Cadan. You? Graffitying my wall? Nah, go ahead and paint away! I'm happy for your visit always! :D

    Bethany, yes, they are difficult. I hope this has helped a bit, though.

    Melissa, thank you! I look forward to using it for my next query letter. Hopefully i can get my publisher to fall in love with my novel again! Xoxox

  12. That makes so much sense. No wonder I don't like it! Thanks for the insight.

  13. This is very cool! Thank you for sharing. This visual will stay with me when I think about writing my first query.

  14. This is a really good example. now to check my query against it ;)

  15. awesome information thanks for sharing

  16. I've never really been fond of nonfiction except in my blog. What you've said here makes perfect sense for why I try to avoid query letters.

  17. I agree completely with your post! A query letter really is a professional business letter and should be treated as such! After all, you're sending it to a professional of the industry. I think the inverted pyramid is a wonderful visual tool to use to keep all your information on track.

    Awesome post!

  18. Awesome post! I never thought about it like a food pyramid, but you're right. It's an interesting analogy for sure and I'm sure it helps to break down a query in such a way - easy to swallow portions!

  19. More notes to add to my stack on query letters. Thanks for the awesome information! :)

  20. I stand amazed at people who devise such charts. Awesome! Very useful information, Elizabeth.

    I see I was a follower way back before my Blogger glitched and I had to start over. So I'm signing on again so you'll come up on my blogroll.

    You have a gorgeous site to go along with your photograph.
    Ann Best, Memoir Author

  21. Great information. This is my first visit to your blog and I love it. I am new to all this and am learning so much. Thank you!


  22. Appreciate the information.

  23. I've never realized, either, that it is a NONfiction thang we're tangoing with. Sheesh. *hugs*

  24. I love the upside down pyramid idea - what a great post! :)


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