What Makes a Fantastic Query!


At the moment Stacey and I are teamed up as mentors for Pitch Wars. If you haven’t heard of it then chances are you haven’t been on Twitter lately. It’s a fantastic contest where mentors take on a mentee and help them get their manuscript ready to present to agents.

There were 1591 entries across Adult, New Adult, Young Adult and Middle Grade categories across 108 mentors.

Here’s why some pitches stand out to us as Stacey and I work our way through the entries:

  1. Amazingly unique concept: Stories that haven’t been told before. Stories that make us sit up and take notice. Pitches that make us wonder “can the author pull this off?”
  2. Pitches with voice: Don’t give me vanilla in pitches. Give me Rainbow. The tone of the pitch should match the tone of the story. The voice of the story should come through in the pitch. That doesn’t mean put the pitch into the MC’s 1st person POV. But it does mean we should get a feel for the MC in the pitch. Use words that the MC would use in descriptions.
  3. Conciseness: I love pitches with a unique concept, with a great voice AND tells it all in two to three paragraphs max. It’s a real art to sum up story, to tease us, without giving away the twist and without making it too long. But it is doable.
  4. Fantastic stakes: Stakes are so important to the pitch. It’s another sit up and take notice moment. The stakes need to be real, non-cliche, and provides real internal conflict for the MC.
  5. Nailing your category & genre: I love seeing a pitch and being able to see it matches the designated category and genre. I want to see a word count that fits the category and genre. These aren’t deal breakers for me, but it shows me the author has a good grasp on the publishing industry if she nails it.
  6. My wish list: I get so excited when I see a pitch that is exactly what I wanted. When people send me things from my wish list, it just makes my day.

All the above points also apply when you are querying an agent or submitting to a publisher.

You should workshop your query with betas/CPs, just like you would your manuscript. But you should also run it past people who have NEVER read your story and have no idea what it’s about, because that’s exactly what will be happening when you send it our on the query-go-round.

There are a lot of competitions, forums, and professionals that provide opportunities for query critiques. Take advantage of these opportunities before sending our queries out.

If you are about to query/are currently querying, may the requests ever be in your favour.

Sharon is an author from sunny Queensland and has a book coming out in November! She has cutie fur babies and is currently binge watching Teen Wolf.

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