Thursday, June 9, 2011

Two Important -- and Hilarious -- Sites for Writers

I’m sure the existence of QueryShark and the BookEnds blog is not news to those seriously into scouring the Internet for great resources for budding writers. That’s not the point. What is the point is that they’re new to a schlub like me still marveling at the jargon and the sociability of agents and literary agencies – some of them – on the Internet.

I’ve spent at least an hour perusing the posts at QueryShark and have learned a lot. The premise is that budding authors can send their queries in to QueryShark for a critique. The site provides a good mix of both good and comically bad query letters, with underlying criticism reminding authors that if they’re having trouble with the query letter, it might jus be that they’ve got a novel that’s not quite up to much.

What’s most helpful about QueryShark is that the authors take query letters through several iterations, working with the author to make things better. Here’s one of my favorites.

The advice is often savage, but – and I know this to be the truth – necessary. There’s a lot of people out there writing books and thinking they’ve got the next great American novel in their hands when, in truth, they do not. This is a good place to go for a taste of humility, and a willing, professional audience ready to help you write the best query – and, conversely, a better novel – than you might have without any help at all.

I’m absolutely submitting my query for “Considering How to Run” to QueryShark – after I revise it, of course. Sounded good to me when I wrote it. It’s obviously trash, after reading the critiques on their site. Ooh yeah. It’s trash. Revising it right now. Not pretty. So QueryShark, yes, very useful site.

BookEnds is more of a generic lit agent blog (something I need, given that Nathan Bransford is no longer a lit agent) with some of the features of QueryShark, accompanied with more basic information on landing an agent, how agents tick, etc. Not quite as humorous (or painful, if you want to go that way) as QueryShark, but still stuffed with valuable information. Good example of BookEnds stuff here.)

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