Ask the Experts: Time to Query

It’s time to write and perfect your query letter, but where to start? How long should a query be and what do I need to include?

What is a Query?

The purpose of the query letter is to entice an agent or editor to read and/or request your manuscript. 100-200 words are sufficient for most novels. Plain and simple – it’s a sales pitch.

Some Do’s and Don’ts:


  • Your research. Make sure you are sending your query to the right agent, and the reason is for sending it to her/him is clear. “According to your agency’s  website, you are actively seeking…”
  • Set up your story by conveying what your main character wants above all else and what’s preventing her/him from getting it.  Show who your character is. What are they up against and what they’re made of.
  • Show strong actions, consequences, and emotions.
  • Include a concise summary of your novel’s statistics and appropriate comparative works.
  • Close with a short and bio paragraph.


  • Be careful with accolades or listing accomplishments. If you include any, include only the most relevant.
  • Make sure your comp title only if it gives the agent a clear sense of your story and style.
  • Be vague.
  • Forget to thank the agent
  •  Stories are subjective. One agent may love it, another hate it, but don’t give up. Be patient and query on.
Five Essential Elements of a Query:
  1. What you’re selling: genre/category, word count, title/subtitle
  2. Hook – Protagonist, the stakes, and the thing that sets your story apart.
  3. Bio: an option for unpublished fiction writers
  4. Personalization – customize the letter to the agent or editor
  5. Closing – ‘thank you.’

Remember, this will be, perhaps, your one and only chance with this agent to draw them into your story and ask for more. So, do your homework.

Where to find the Right Agent


What are your tips on writing queries?

I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story. I’m all ears and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMcIntyreGood, PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgood, Contently, and Instagram. You can follow my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.



Revision Versus Rewriting – What’s the Difference?



Annabel Smith

I’ve tasted the victory of typing the last line on my first full-length novel. The exhilaration of writing “The end” lasted for about a day because now, the real work begins. But, where do I begin?

To find out what my next steps involved, I started where I always do – with research and looking at what the experts had to say.

First, let’s look at a few definitions and terms – Here’s what I discovered:

Revision – means to you take a second look; read it through with fresh and critical perspective.

  • includes reviewing and amending the story.
  • is not a one-time run through.
  • often requires a back and forth between drafts. (I’m told many writers go through multiple drafts and revisions before moving to the next stage.
  • it requires a large-scale overview of the story.
  • You’re looking for the overall flow and structure of the story.
    • looking for holes or loose threads
    • organization of the story
    • character development
    • issues of credibility or believability in the plot, character, or settings.
    • logistics/timeline
    • conclusion

Rewriting – When you rewrite an entire scene, chapter, or add additional information to expand a scene, delete an unnecessary character, or make a character fuller.

Note:  Inline annotations are a good way to make note of areas that may require a rewrite.

Editing and ProofReading –  I tend to think these two things go hand in hand.

  • Editing involves getting the words right and making sure the sentence flows.
  • Proofreading means getting into the nitty-gritty of grammar, spelling, and punctuation; line by line. Things to look for during this process:
    • sentence structure and length
    • those pesky waste words
    • weak verbs
    • Remove unnecessary, vague words, clichés, or jargon
    • Remove awkward or mixed metaphors
    • redundancy
    • rhythm
    • smooth transitions
    • homonyms – words with the pronunciation but different meanings; or, two or more words with the same spelling but different meanings.

Finishing that first draft is exhilarating, but don’t let impatience to see it in print cause you to skimp on the revision process. We all want to see our book on the shelves, but we want a polished book one where our readers get lost in the story and not distracted by poor story organization or sloppy typos.

For More on the Revision Process, check out what this expert has to say.

  1. Are You Making These 3 Common Revision Mistakes? By Janice Hardy. 
  2. General Strategies Before Your Proofread
  3. Revising Drafts

Do you have pointers on revising a draft? Please, share with us. I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story. I’m all ears and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMGood,  PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgood, Contently, and Instagram. You can follow my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.