Help From an Unexpected Place

By Bob McCrillis

Sometimes, agents are as nutty as writers, or so it seemed.

On his submissions requirements was ‘if you haven’t read and absorbed all of the Query Shark archives, you’re not ready to query’. Query Shark? What the heck was that? And why would I need to review its archives?

Bob cropped tightBeing a compulsive rule-follower, I dutifully Googled Query Shark and found the blog. Okay, a blog about queries might have some good information before the pitch for an online tutorial course for the low, low price of only …

I clicked on and discovered a treasure trove that I would have hoarded for myself, if I could – why help the competition? My good angel prevailed.

My queries looked and read like my resume. Titled with indents with the various blocks clearly identified. Something like this:


Ropework is a 67,000-word Middle-Grade Fantasy novel about the travails of a dog that learns to climb trees to get revenge on the squirrels that have taunted him for years.


Rover, tortured by the squirrels in his back yard, decided to learn to climb treesblah, blah, blah…

You get the idea. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that this presentation didn’t get any responses from agents or publishers – heck, I didn’t even get rejections slips. It was like target shooting in the dark.

After working through some of the Query Shark examples, I changed the letter to begin:

Rover’s dream of an idyllic summer sleeping in the sun and rolling in the fragrant green grass was shattered. He was an easy-going sort of guy but the damn squirrels had taken over.

Being mocked by a bushy-tailed tree rat from a limb just inches out of reach was more than Rover could take. It was time for action, drastic action.

Watching a tree-surgeon trim a dead branch from Mrs. Caldor’s tree gave him an idea…

Which one might encourage you to read on?

The bloggress or blogger accepts and edits selected draft queries from the readers and walks through exactly what edits could be made. The blog archives provide a wealth of examples. Apparently, if your skin is thick enough, you can even submit one of your own drafts.

Take a look. I’m at least getting reject letters now.


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