Friday, February 19, 2010

Literary Fiction Queries

Agent Kate Testerman (a.k.a. Daphne Unfeasible) answered my question about literary fiction queries on her blog yesterday. Click here to read it.

Here's the story behind the question:

I'm a little timid about querying my new book, because it's not high concept. V-Day was more high concept, meaning, I could distill the whole book's plot into one electrifying sentence (or collection of phrases, as the case may be): One day. One whisper that changed everything. One chance to make it right. Ooo, you all want to read it now, right? Ha ha, just kidding.

My only other experience querying a character-driven (vs. a plot-driven) book, was my first attempt at querying a novel, with that long-shelved, first-stab-at-the-world-of-publishing anti-wonder, Up Lantau Running/Beaker Becker. I think I sent out 15 queries for that one and got ... um ... one partial request out of it, which was promptly rejected. *Splat*

So, now I'm quaking in my boots. I'm not even done with the first draft of my new book, so maybe I'm worrying prematurely. But I like to have a query at least written by this point so that I feel confident that the book has some saleability. If it just sounds like any other coming-of-age story, what chance do I have of ever making it in the current market?

All that to say, I'm grateful to Kate Testerman for answering my question. I think she gave good advice. I'm feeling slightly more confident. Any other thoughts on writing a killer query for a character-driven, literary book?


  1. Um, sorry. Got nothing. My query is killing me. I put it up on Nathan Bransford's site and torn in shreds and I need a week to lick my wounds before trying again. Perhaps 'Keep trying?'

  2. This is a toughie. Perhaps mention "character driven" in your query? In the end, those are the strongest books of all. Cool that Kate answered your question!