Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Blog Challenge #6: The Art of the Query

Courtesy of The Art of Alba
I'm always genuinely surprised at the sheer volume of queries I receive on a daily basis that I end up having to reject for simple reasons: they're not what I'm looking for.

Queries that didn't hit the mark this week include works I don't represent, weak character and/or plot development, stories with clichéd storylines/heroes and genres I'm not currently seeking works in.

While it can appear frustrating to go through so many queries in a day and not be able to request a partial or full, I do enjoy seeing the creativity displayed in the vast number of stories I get to weed through on a daily basis. Some stories, while intriguing to me, fall outside any genre I represent or appear great as story ideas but then fail to capture the essence of what the query tried to convey. For example, a new twist on the werewolf/vampire dynamic that in the query shows promise but in the sample provided proves it's just another werewolf/vampire romance. While cliché generally sells, there has to be an engaging voice attached to the story to make the reader feel like this is a completely new way to see an old classic.

The popularity of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY in the erotic romance category means I get a lot of queries stating their book is something that will appeal to the readers of the best-selling "Mommy porn" book. I have to admit, the first thing to cross my mind when I see this in a query is... "not another one." I still attempt to read the query and sample pages as objectively as possible but have found myself putting some of those queries aside to re-read and decide on after a few days to give myself a bit of time to be more objective about what I'm reading.

So what are some queries that worked? The ones with strong characters in genres I represent: Romance and erotic romance at the moment. Works with a strong voice and a hook that made me want to keep reading beyond the first five pages. Storylines that while apparently clichéd, gave me an alternate point of view to consider: a Zombie Dad trying to stay together long enough to see his kids off to college, a Vampire hunter whose lover happens to be the Vampire King, etc. The possibilities are infinite.