Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Some Great Query Advice Floating Around

I've been reading some terrific blogs on querying lately that I wanted to share with anyone who is embarking on this scary phase in their writing career. Even though I've been signed with my current agent for nearly two years and did another year with a former agent, I still read the agent blogs just about every day. Why? Because I once or twice a week, I learn something about the business that I didn't know before. I like to think of the agent blogs as publishing 101. Just about everything you'll ever need to know is covered by the agents who blog.

Lately, a lot of them have been doling out some practical advice about querying. In this post, agent Jenny Bent covers common rookie mistakes. I like the one about conference guy who confronts her publicly about why he needs an agent in the first place. That's a really smart move. NOT!

Here, agent Nathan Bransford talks about how over-hyping your query can land you in the spam filter.

These two are from Angela James, executive editor of Carina Press, which will publish my book, Fatal Affair, in June. Query Dos. And, Query Don'ts. Some of this seems like it should be common sense, but the agents and editors are seeing enough of the "don'ts" to blog about them. I thought Angela made a great point about not using rhetorical questions to open a query. Sure, we hear this advice a lot, but what does it really mean? Well, Angela spells it out: If the agent or editor's answer to your rhetorical question is NO, do you want them starting your query with the word NO in their head? I didn't think so.

I thought I'd share my query to Carina for Fatal Affair. While it may not be a perfect query, it did the trick!

Dear Carina Press,
On the morning of the most important vote of Senator John O’Connor’s career he is late—again. His best friend and chief of staff, Nick Cappuano, sets off to O'Connor’s apartment expecting to roust him from bed and hoping he is alone. But what Nick finds is that O’Connor, the handsome, amiable Senator from Virginia, has been brutally murdered, and Nick’s world comes crashing down around him. Complicating the disaster, the detective assigned to the case is none other than Sam Holland, Nick’s one-night stand from six years earlier, and the woman who broke his heart and haunts his dreams. With six years of unfinished business hanging between them and more than a few scores to settle personally and professionally, Nick and Sam set out to find the senator's killer while trying—and failing—to resist the overwhelming attraction simmering between them, which seems to have only grown over the years.

In the 99,000-word FATAL AFFAIR, it soon becomes clear that the Senator’s past holds secrets that not only led to his death but now endanger Nick and Sam as well. Working together to catch a killer and to rediscover the love they thought they'd lost long ago, they must put the past behind them and build a future that offers a world of new opportunities for both of them—including an offer from the Virginia Democrats for Nick to finish the last year of John’s term.

FATAL AFFAIR kicks off a potential series featuring United States Senator Nick Cappuano and Washington, D.C. Police Lieutenant Sam Holland. The second book in the series, FATAL JUSTICE (96,000 words), picks up Sam and Nick's story as a controversial Supreme Court nominee comes to Washington for confirmation hearings and is murdered execution-style. With high interest in the “ins and outs” of the Washington political scene, this unique story is sure to captivate readers with fast-paced intrigue and heart-warming romance! In addition, readers will fall in love with the colorful cast of secondary characters. Both manuscripts are complete and an outline for future books featuring Sam and Nick is available upon request. In the spirit of the wildly popular J.D. Robb "In Death" books, the "Fatal" series tells the story of a complex marriage in which readers will discover that politics really does make for strange bedfellows.

My first novel, LINE OF SCRIMMAGE, was released September 1, 2008 from Sourcebooks Casablanca. My second novel, LOVE AT FIRST FLIGHT, was released from Sourcebooks in July. My third contemporary from Sourcebooks, tentatively titled SEE YOU NEXT TIME, will be out in the Spring of 2011. Of LINE OF SCRIMMAGE, Booklist said, “With its humor and endearing characters, Force’s charming novel will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers, reaching far beyond sports fans.” Wild on Books said, “LOVE AT FIRST FLIGHT by Marie Force is most definitely a keeper. It is an astounding book. I loved every single word!” I've worked hard to build up a core group of readers who are clamoring for more! I believe a partnership with Carina Press would be an outstanding complement to my print books.

Since 1996, I've been the communications director for a national organization similar to RWA. I recently completed a two-year term as newsletter editor for RWA’s New England Chapter, and I'm a member of the From the Heart and Published Author Special Interest Chapters. A resident of Rhode Island, I'm married with two children. Visit me online at or on my blog at I'm represented by Kevan Lyon of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Please feel free to contact me or Kevan ( with any questions. Thank you for considering FATAL AFFAIR for the exciting new Carina Press endeavor.
Marie Force

Query questions? After hundreds of queries over many years, I may have some answers. Fire away!


Mary G said...

You forgot to add:
PS & Mary G loves me. LOL

Marie Force said...

Oh yeah, totally forgot that! :-)

Mary G said...

Hi Marie
I was in a rush to go to tennis, hence my short comment. I enjoyed reading your query letter as I had just read the post at Carina Press.
Interesting that I've read that they shouldn't be too long, yet what can you do when you have an impressive resume like yours? Your intro was great too. I'd want to keep reading.

Marie Force said...

Thanks Mary! This one was a little longer than my usual query because the story is sooo complex and I wanted to get my already published books and a few reviews in there.

Mary G said...

As a published author, do you have to do a query letter each time or just with new publishers?

Marie Force said...

No, this was the first one I've done in years! LOL! I got pretty damned good at it during all my years of querying, however.

Mary G said...

Fascinating. Romantic Times did a series of articles on this topic & I read every one. Don't know why since I don't plan on ever writing or getting published.

Marie Force said...

It's an interesting process, that's for sure!