Queryday: Literary agents use Twitter to offer tips

April 17, 2009

I’ve just barely begun to explain my progress on this new blog, but I’ve got to interrupt regularly scheduled blog posts to bring you… Queryday.

First, what’s a query? It’s a one-page letter to a literary agent, asking that s/he represent you and your project. If an agent likes your query, she’ll ask to see your book proposal, which hopefully leads to an offer of representation.

The query, then, is rather important. It’s an agent’s first glimpse at your proposed book and a chance for her to reject or claim you after reading just a few paragraphs about you and your project.

Lots of agents and writers have blogged and even published books about how to write the perfect query. But today on Twitter, agents are participating in something they call Queryday. They’ll use the popular social networking service’s 140-character phrases (tweets) to explain what worked and what didn’t work in the queries they’ve recently received.

Created by literary agent Colleen Lindsay, who posts rules here on her blog, Queryday was initially called Queryfail, and it caused a huge uproar in the publishing Twitter-sphere. Many writers who observed the online conversation hoping to understand what makes agents reach out to wannabe authors or toss their query in the trash complained it was too harsh, that agents were crossing the line by making fun of author hopefuls. For the record, agents did not reveal the names of the writers they mocked.

So Lindsay changed the name from queryfail to queryday, hoping for a more educational session that would offend fewer readers (though her goal was always education). Regardless of what it’s called, I’ll be there — well, reading online from my home office — ready to learn.

Wanna get in on it? To ask questions — yes, agents are taking those, too — or participate, you’ll need a Twitter account. But to follow the conversation, you need only click here.

Since the queryday tweets are already coming in, here’s a sample. It helps to understand Twitter-speak, but even if you’re behind on that you’ll get the idea:

rachellegardner: Humility is much better than arrogance in a query letter. Try not to oversell yourself, but present your work with confidence. #queryday

jaypers: #Queryday question for agents:would you auto-reject a query written in 1st person from the character’s POV? @ColleenLindsay @BostonBookGirl

ColleenLindsay: @mightymur If an agent asks for an exclusive, give them no more than a few days and be firm on an end date. It’s YOUR project! #queryday

So check it out! And while you’re at it, connect with me on Twitter. Username: alexisgrant.

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