Thursday, April 12, 2012

Writing a Good Query is Like Getting a Root Canal While Hanging From a Trapeze

The clouds shimmer like aluminum in the crepuscular light as I write this.

I had a one hour consult with Mark Malatesta, a former literary agent who now offers consulting services to writers. His blog, which you can access for free, is loaded with good insight.

I took advantage of his limited time offer to new clients for a one hour phone call for $97. Before our one hour phone call Mark sent me a set of questions to answer, as well as information about my work. The session includes a free MP3 recording of our conversation. In addition, Mark sends a link to another MP3 on insider secrets to getting published. Before my phone call I had already gotten a lot of bang for my bucks.

Some of what we discussed was encouraging. He praised my body of writing and knowledge of the YA markets. He feels my books are marketable and I am ready to be represented. Yet he confirmed the difficulty in breaking in. For example, one needs to contact a minimum of 100 agents, and expect only 10% to respond. There are many reasons why agents do not bite, the chief being a poorly written query. The letter is the key to the castle, and I would rather write a 300 page novel than a query letter. It’s easier.

Our dialogue provided me with ideas on how to improve my horrible query letter, and the conversation reinforced something I already knew; I have a lot of work to do. Drudge work, not the creative fun stuff like crafting characters, placing them in peril and letting them talk to you. Writing is an art, but publishing is a business, and if I want to get published, I have to suck it up and put on my metaphorical three piece suit.

If I decide to use more of Mark’s consultations, we will work on producing a query that will hopefully attract a number of agents.

So my assignment to those of writing prose (Most agents don’t represent poets) is; visit his web site, download the MP3 and sign up for his newsletter. You have nothing to lose because these things are all free.

Happy Writing.


  1. I'd rather write a thesis and defend it than write a query letter. ;)

  2. I'd rather run naked through a cactus patch than write a query.