Query Letter Face Lift

I’m not so concerned with aging that I’m willing to augment my smaller parts and suction my bigger ones.  I haven’t bought into botulism injections, nor have I chemically peeled my face.  I wear my wrinkles–each earned through loving my four children and all that they bring into my life–with pride.

Except when they get caught in a snapshot.  Frozen for all eternity.  I’ll admit, though not proudly, that I photo-shopped my crow’s feet out of our Christmas card this year.

It’s a simple fix, photo-shopping is.  It allows me to remain who I am every day–flawed, experienced, time-worn and uniquely me–yet do it gracefully in those moments of close-up scrutiny.

I’m sure those who know me by now get the correlation that’s coming.  Our manuscripts are the natural us.  They are robust and filled with character.  They are living, breathing entities that impact the lives of those who dare to read them.

Query letters are snapshots.  They show the flaws, the eye-baggage and gray hairs.  They can appear tired and worn-out.  And yet, this is the very image we send off to agents and editors in hopes that they will be so wowed with what they see they will beg us to come to dinner.

So, do yourself a favor and photo-shop your query letters.  Smooth out the wrinkles, augment what needs bigger and suction out the parts that over-power.   Don’t be afraid to tease out the inner beauty.

Cat’s Guide to Query Letter Face Lifts

  1.  Whiten that Smile: smiles can invite others into our world.  They encourage connection.  Frowns do the exact opposite.  In the same way, your hook entices or warns away your readers.
  2. Make Your Eyes Pop: the old window to the soul cliché is never more important to keep in mind than now.  Eyes can exude warmth, dance with humor, spark with anger or shimmer.  The eyes, my friends, is voice.  It is the tone of your query.  The personality.
  3. Clip Your Nose Hairs: gross, I know, but who can concentrate on a conversation when a black hair woodles in and out with every inhalation and exhalation?  Yeah, didn’t think so.  Cut the distracting subplots.  Limit your character count.  Instead, focus only on the most compelling points of your story.  Anything else is a distraction that can kill an otherwise great query.
  4. Smooth the Wrinkles: query letters are short, but they need to flow.  Word choice is of the utmost importance in creating a cohesive, yet lyrical piece of work.  The style your query letter is written in should reflect the style of your manuscript.  If your sentences ramble, an agent will assume your manuscript also rambles.  If your query is tight and evocative, so should your manuscript be.
  5. Get Out the Zit Stick: as a finishing touch, cover your blemishes.  At all costs, your query must not have typos or silly grammatical mistakes.

So, how do you fare in the query letter department?  How do you photo-shop your words to make the best impression? 

Curious minds want to know.

PS.  Hope your Valentine’s Muse is good to you today!

10 responses to “Query Letter Face Lift

  1. This is hysterical! I really thought I had a strong query letter – and I did, but I discovered it could be stronger. Sarah Megibow recently commented in a newsletter that a good query will make her emotionally respond to the story. Ouch, I thought. Looked at my query again and sure enough, it was factually accurate and drier than the Taklamakan Desert. So would you say I added moisturizer to my query? LOL

    • Victoria,

      I’ve been there before. It’s like a punch in the face when we find out our writing isn’t as beautiful as we first thought. LOL.

      Then we have to ice our black eyes.

      BTW, I love your moisturizer idea. Too funny.

  2. I’ve let my query letter sit for two months, so I can look at it with a new perspective. At this point, I’ve forgotten most of it, so it’ll be like reading for the first time when I pull it out. The goal is to pick out the immediate problems and smooth them out. 🙂

  3. Great post Cat! Great advice too. 🙂

  4. Hey hey! Long time no see, but I’m finally back! I’m blogging again and looking forward to reading your posts and posts from my other blogging buddies. I’m so glad to see you are still going at it on here. After my hiatus I’m having to dust off my brain and get back in the game.

  5. Haha… more like getting part of my eye removed. I ended up having multiple internal eye hemorrhages that led to my vitreous having to be removed in my left eye. At one point, I was basically blind. But after the surgery and procedures, I’m happy to say I’m seeing clearly again and able to read, write and everything in between! 🙂

    Gotta say, I missed you guys.

    • You should have said something so I could have sent well-wishes your way. Glad everything turned out okay. Eyesight is one of those things I take for granted, but would be devestated if I lost it.


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