The Single Best Piece of Query Writing Advice I've Ever Heard


There is so much writing advice out there, and particularly advice on querying, that you could literally spend forever trying to absorb it all. It can be overwhelming. You've written this entire novel, yet trying to write 2-3 stinking paragraphs about it becomes a seemingly impossible task.


I used to beat my head against my keyboard trying to figure out how to do it the right way. (And by the way, this need to write a query never goes away. Even after you're published, you have to write back cover copy and short synopses. So it's a skill that gets used over and over again.)

But then I stumbled upon this simple tip from Agent Kristin Nelson and the dark storm clouds parted. Suddenly, it all made perfect sense. And I haven't stressed about writing that snappy little summary again.

So what did she say?

The query should be about the first third of your book.

That's it. It's not a synopsis of everything that's happened. It's a teaser, it's a back cover style blurb. You give the set up, the main characters, the big conflict, and then a nice juicy foreshadowing/hooky sentence at the end. The purpose of it is to make the agent or editor say--ooh, I need to read these pages to see what happens or where she goes with this.

I'll use my back cover blurb for CRASH INTO YOU as an example:


Brynn LeBreck has dedicated herself to helping women in crisis, but she never imagined how personal her work would get, or where it would take her. Her younger sister is missing, suspected to be hiding from cops and criminals alike at a highly secretive BDSM retreat—a place where the elite escape to play out their most extreme sexual fantasies. To find her Brynn must go undercover as a sexual submissive. [<--All this is set up and intro of MC.] Unfortunately, The Ranch is invitation only. And the one Master who can get her in is from the darkest corner of Brynn’s past. [<--And here's your character conflict. This entire paragraph covers what happens in just chapters 1-3, that's it.]

Brynn knows what attorney Reid Jamison is like once stripped of his conservative suit and tie [Introducing second main character]. Years ago she left herself vulnerable only to have him crush her heart. Now she needs him again. Back on top. And he’s all too willing to engage. [Deepening their conflict. She doesn't want this, but he does.] But as their primal desires and old wounds are exposed, the sexual games escalate—and so does the danger.  Their hearts aren’t the only things at risk. Someone else is watching, playing by his own rules. And his game could be murder. [This last section is the hook to let you know that some serious stuff is going to happen once these two people enter into Act 2 and start their adventure. I don't tell you anything about the antagonist or why someone is after them. I don't go into why there is so much animosity between Brynn and Reid. I want you to want to read the book to find out.]


I hope that break down makes sense. Once you stop worrying about fitting in all that other stuff, the query no longer feels as daunting. Just give them your first act and get out. Save the rest of it for that other dreaded thing--the synopsis. : )

So have you heard this tip before? Have you ever received a simple tip that gave you an ah-ha moment (feel free to share those tips with us!)? What has helped you with your query writing?



"Revved up and red-hot sexy, CRASH INTO YOU, delivers a riveting romance!" --Lorelei James, NY Times Bestselling author of the ROUGH RIDERS series


CRASH INTO YOU is now available for pre-order!

Read an excerpt here.

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