Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Book Review: From the Query to the Call

There are only two hard parts to getting published: writing a book and selling it. And considering how many authors are out there competing for the attention of a limited number of agents, the latter task may seem even harder than the first. Fortunately, you can find an experienced guide through the querying jungle. Elana Johnson, one of my fellow Blog Chain members, has presented information about writing query letters and contacting agents at writing conferences. She recently assembled this information into an e-book called From the Query to the Call. It will be officially published next Monday (September 14), but I was able to get a sneak peek.

The first thing that struck me about this book was how well organized it was. Embedded bookmarks quickly take you to the section you're most interested in. Important tips are flagged with a special symbol. Even more important are the links to various online resources, such as worksheets to help you with your query letter and websites that can help you pick which agents to approach.

There are two main sections to this book: "Writing a Killer Query" and "Entering the Query Trenches." In the first part, Elana analyzes several successful query letters and discusses how each part works. It may surprise some writers how much of the query letter is devoted to the story itself, not to the writer's qualifications. In the second half of the book, Elana walks through the query process, from researching agents to talking to them on the phone. She includes several interviews with other authors describing how they handled "the call." It may be reassuring to learn other writers get nervous about talking to agents--and to remember that agents are humans too.

At 63 pages, this book is a quick read, which is good for overworked writers like me. Thanks to Elana's easy conversational yet empathic voice, a topic that strikes fear into the hearts of writers becomes less daunting. Although I've written query letters before, I think Elana's step-by-step approach to setting up the hooks, central conflict, and consequences of a story will help me greatly when I'm ready to send out Across Two Universes. I recommend her book to all fiction writers ready to send their books to agents.

For more information, please visit From the Query to the Call's official website or Facebook page.


Annie Louden said...

This is a really well-written review!

Elana Johnson said...

Awesome review! Thanks Sandra. :)

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