Saturday, April 02, 2022

Recent query stats



These stats are drawn from the last week or so of queries.


The number one reason for a pass was the query was for a book in a category I don't take on.

I'm glad to get queries for whatever category you want to send. I'm not all caught up in the "make sure you know what I'm looking for" stuff.  I know what I'm looking for, and I'm happy to sort it out myself.



Reason #2

Not enough plot to interest me.

Writers often confuse set up and back story for plot. They're not the same thing. Plot is about choices and stakes.  If I don't know what's at stake, that's a lack of plot problem.


Reason #3

Word count.

Either too little or too much. 14,000 word novels are an instant pass. So are those with 200K.


Reason #4


A badly written query means a badly written book.

I don't mean your query is structured poorly, or you don't have plot on the page, or your comps are outlandish. I mean the writing itself is not up to par. 


I know this strikes fear in every querying writer's heart. All of you think "oh she's talking about ME!"

(I'm probably not.)


Being able to assess your own work is very difficult. That's why writers groups can be helpful. Beta readers too.


But the best way to build your confidence is to keep writing. Look at the stuff you wrote a year ago. Are you better now?


(I look at some of my earliest blog posts and cringe.)


A lot of people query before they're ready to be published. But a pass now doesn't mean you've been sent down forevermore.  Keep writing. Daily if you can.


And this makes me want to revitalize the flash fiction contests; a lot of you said those were very helpful for building your skills.



Kathleen Marple Kalb said...

Our queen speaks the truth! I queried too soon...and my third project really was THAT much better than the first. Why? Yep. Writing every day and good, honest betas. Just saying.

Kitty said...

Reason #4 brings on agita just thinking about querying.

P.S. WORDLE is 79%. It was 80%, but a couple of days ago I experienced some brain rust and my 80% slid to 78%. I'm all better now.

Steve Forti said...

Perks up at mention of flash fiction contest. Why yes, that just might get me out of my lull.

Kitty said...

Steve is probably already dreaming of word combos using NEMESIS.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Terrific info, as always. Especially: keep writing!

I didn't participate in the flash fiction contests very often, but I loved reading the entries.

french sojourn said...

ffffflash fffiction?.....pant, pant, pant.....

NLiu said...

Flash fiction?

Bringgggg ittttttttt

Colin Smith said...

Did you say... flash fiction contests...?? 😍

Luralee said...

I’ve missed flash fiction! I seem to need the contests to motivate me to write it though.
Flash fiction has had a big impact on my novel. Mostly good, however, I have always been somewhat of an under writer. Now a lot of the new scenes I write resemble my flash fiction. Anyone have suggestions for bulking up a scene?

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

Did someone say flash fiction?

And yeah, Janet has just given us the ultimate query writing rule in the fewest words possible .

Choices and stakes.

John Davis Frain said...

I bet if you anthologized your favorite flash fiction pieces, you'd have a gem of a collection.

Might be a good time to get started on Volume 2.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Frain is correct. The best of those flash pieces would make an excellent anthology. And yes, writing flash has helped my writing improve over the year. Although, what has helped the most is writing. And reading. And writing more and more. You do improve over time. So listen to the shark. She knows her business. And beta readers, the right beta readers, are super useful and bringing them in at the right time. Which might vary writer to writer.

Craig F said...

My Queen, I am not one to beg, but your flash fiction contests were spectacular. the quality of the writing matched the idea. Please, if you find the time, bring it back, please.

If an anthology comes around, can a few be honored because they did not win because the world was tumulyus at times. Hank (French Sojourn) wrote a piece that still haunts me. but didn't win because Charlie Hedbo was bombed. My best piece only got an honorable mention for "then the chainsaw slipped, I swear it". That entry also came at a time that humanity again showed its hatred for itself,

CynthiaMc said...

Flash fiction!!!! Yes!

Julie Weathers said...

This struck home.

Reason #2. Plot

A friend sent me James Scott Bell's Plot and Structure and Save the Cat Writes a Novel for Christmas a couple of years ago. After muddling through STC, I wondered about the friendship, but she truly is. We formed a discussion group on the Litforum and it was such an eye-opener to hash out our WIPs with others using this method.

I will continue to apply both books to everything I write from now on.

#3 Word count

Ah, yes. The Rain Crow came in at 170,000 words. I queried a few times, but an agent I respect (Snookums) did mention that it was out of her wheelhouse, and did I realize others of her ilk were going to balk at that word count?

I expected that response, because it isn't something Snookums reps, but query widely and all.

After those wise words, though, I decided to hire an editor to help me cut it down. Readers on the Litforum gasped. "She better not cut the Secret Keeper!" (Who knew people would get so attached to a mechanical desk of many wonders?) She better not cut Luri! (I did fear she might cut the troublemaking horse, but the editor loves her.) She better not mess with Baron! (She loves the dynamic between Lorena and her captain.)

I have not offered any advice other than to say the spelling of Deringer is correct.

I have no idea what she will cut, but I know it needed to be cut and I was failing to find what needed to go.

#4. Queries. Take up residence in the Query Shark. That is the best advice I have.

"But the best way to build your confidence is to keep writing. Look at the stuff you wrote a year ago. Are you better now?"

Yup. I'm going back through old blog posts now and cleaning them up. Good Hannah, some of those were rough.

RosannaM said...

I loved the flash fiction contests!

Thank you, Janet for even considering offering them again. I know how much of your time they required. Happy Spring, everyone!