How We Read Queries

How We Read Queries

how about it okay so no we always service oh yeah always service so it's so embarrassing so it's so I so no I'm not gonna do so all right Jessica and Kim I brought you here today yeah we got a Twitter question by at Pandora mixie mix game yes good name gonna call me sir mix-a-lot his name is Michael we're gonna call Michael from now on he actually good question about how we read queries do we read the sample query or synopsis in any particular order so I thought because we all read queries kind of differently we can we can discuss so I think I'm the only am I the only one that doesn't allow samples probably like that I tend to make I tend to go through my queries and really I'm just looking for the voice and the hook within the query itself and so honestly I get so many queries and I like to make it as efficient a process as possible and so I don't ask for samples but I do think that then I tend to request more than I would otherwise because I'm if if I like the query if it sounds decent I'm intrigued then I'm just immediately going to request the full manuscript and I figure I can sample your writing there whereas I think if I I think it would just make my response times a lot longer if I would've asked for the sample material and then I think I would probably be less likely to request well I mean I ask for the sample material only because picture books it's clicking easy to read I think it would be different yeah but I leave it on for everything and then I don't always refer to it but it's good to have there in case I'm completely unsure I don't picture books do you read the sample even sometimes without reading the query yes okay sometimes a lot of times I'll just skim the query because if you're picked your whole book is right there I'm gonna read the whole book right I feel like I'd get a better sense some people just can't write queries for the life of them most as long as the query right sample yeah and I'd rather just get a sense of the book and what your other books might be like but for a full length fiction if the query is not grabbing me I'm not gonna read your sample because I'm just wasting my time yeah I I do request samples and I probably only read them ten percent of the time right you know I look at queries and you know this is the example that it's like when I shop for books at a book star so I'm reading the query as if I'm reading the back cover copy and if it's intriguing then I you will usually just buy the book I have never been one of those people who reads a few pages in the bookstore either I tend to read the sample only if I'm on the fence and there are times when I will request more based on the sample but typically I make my judgement on query alone and don't usually read the sample right and do either of you request the synopsis I don't I always do but when you request when you get when you ask like right whatever I don't have the synopsis attached for a query but yes if I and when you write and then I rarely peek at it unless I'm curious I never read the synopsis first right I always read the book first unless I'm unsure then I like to have that synopsis there to see if maybe there's something that wants it's gonna make me keep going yeah the synopsis for me is like the sample I tend not to read it at all and last I when I read the synopsis is usually when I'm pretty sure I'm gonna reject the book but I'm curious if there's something there that will keep me reading okay but I don't always read the synopsis either I do really well no ok if it says if I request the full and it's just not working at all and I know that it's a certain reject that I won't probably look at the synopsis but most of the time I do look at the synopsis because I'm I'm not a very patient person Oh never would have guessed so if I am reading and liking I'm like I will like think to myself well I hope this isn't gonna blow up and be bad so thing I'm gonna read this in ops I'm like oh no really he's gonna have a good story arc or whatever mm-hmm but also I think if I really look a lot of times I love the voice but I feel like I don't know where it's going and that's when I look at the synopsis but I would say 75% of the time I do read the synopsis I also think the synopsis can help especially in a situation with an author where there's a time factor involved like they have other offers and we have a limited time we have to get back to them if I'm absolutely loving the buck and I'm 99% sure I want to offer but I haven't finished it I may go to the synopsis just to make sure that the book the strength of the plot still follows through and I can call an offer a representation or set up the call before I finish the book what about the synapse so it's not how do you feel about length of synopses short yeah no more than three pages preferably yeah I like to read I like to yeah yeah I mean for me this the idea of the synopsis is it's supposed to be a quick read so I can either get back to the book or whatever it's useful so if it's a 10 page synopsis that's gonna take me forever to read it might as well just read the book yeah and synopses are dull and they take a long time to get through like I might lose my attention yeah totally yeah you know I feel like that used to be bigger a hot topic of conversation than it is like people ya know it still comes up doesn't it's still trendy but it's trendy when it's time but to most people do you think most agents just feel like we that they should be shorter now I feel like I feel like they should it used to be but I don't know I just feel like it used to be more of a subjective thing and now I don't know I feel like most of the synopses that I do get are like shorter shorter yeah yeah but and then there's a lot of synopses I'm getting that our one-page and give me just as much information as the query so that's the flip side of things yeah I don't want to read a 10-page but I don't want to read your query a second time make sure that your that your synopsis should be a full detailed plot I agree I think the synopsis needs to cover the key point the key plot points and to me it also needs to be representative of the type of book so if you're writing romantic suspense I need to see the key plot points of the suspense but I also need to see in the synapses how the romance is going to play out right and that is a good point for a fantasy in sci-fi you have to allow world-building in your synopsis even if it's just listing things and historical as well right because you have to ground the same way you're grounding your reader in your submission you have to ground them in the synopsis yeah just to make contextual sense yeah I feel like this I forget where but this came up recently maybe on one of our ask agent things but about I think there's a difference between your query blurb and your synopsis in terms of you know ruining the ending or whatever I think for the query blurb it you know it's more like the back of the book where you're not necessarily going to be your entire selling out exactly yeah exactly what's going to happen but with the synopsis I think you always have to tell what the ending is and spoil it oh absolutely because it's about showing the arc of the story I want to see that it comes to a climax and then a satisfying conclusion and and it's not just like one big question right yeah writing a synopsis without showing the ending is doing you a disservice as the author because that's why we're reading this and helps us we want to know that you can carry through what you started in those first chapters that we've read and if you can't boil your book down to a synopsis that has that clear arc there's probably something wrong with the book exactly you're probably not your your books your book structure is probably not as precise as you think it is correct yeah I think in my impatience the way I do things is I read the chapters first to see if I like your voice and if I'm reading enough to see that I like your voice because I am trying to get through my submissions quickly like any agent or editor is I then go to the synopsis to see if you can plot because those are the two main things to in my mind if you have a good voice and if you can plot it that's usually how I read the submission is to yeah and not that it's meant as a test but it becomes a test when you don't do a synopsis it drives me crazy when I ask for a flow manuscript and a synopsis and authors just conveniently forget the synopsis and I don't intend the request for the synopsis to be a test but it does sort of become an indication of how easy are you going to be to work with when from the very beginning you can't follow through and I would say that when it's time to start querying it don't even start until you have that manuscript completely ready as well as a synopsis because people are going to ask for the synopsis and then that synopsis even helps you write your query yeah it should help you write your book when we're writing pitches I consult the synopsis because it's already boiled down as much as it can be and I just have to pull out all the parts I need yeah so book synopsis query get it right Wow

13 thoughts on “How We Read Queries

  1. If I'm considering a book it's based off the first 2 paragraphs, never even read the blurb (query) so guess if I were an agent, I would be going off those 2 paragraphs first.

  2. I found the bit on the varying length of the synopsis very interesting. A while back on Twitter I saw a conversation (which wasn't exactly an argument, but there was a lot of mansplaining) between two writers where the male writer said that the definition of a synopsis was that it had to be less than two pages, or something like that. Apparently not, if they used to be as long as you mentioned in this video! Lol.

  3. I like this topic and glad a reject isn’t decided by synopsis alone. Some of us can write a full novel and just can’t tell it well in a synopsis.

  4. As a new author this video confused me. There seems to be inconsistencies in the way they read queries. One says I never read the synopsis, next minute is sometimes I will if, or if I like the sample, I'll read the synopsis, ?!?

  5. Interesting to see how you feel about synopsis. I don’t feel as up tight about doing one as I used to.

  6. Do you guys think agents occasionally reject books that they like simply because they feel they will not be able to get a publisher to bite and sell the thing? Maybe the wordcount is too massive or the genre mash up is too weird for the current market?

    Also, in regard to this video, does genre ever play a role in the order you look at things submitted? Like if it is a scary novel in the horror genre, do you go right to the synopsis for a quick check on the plot set up to see if it actually does sound like it will be a good, nerve-wracking read late at night or does it all still fall on the query letter?

    I'm thinking my questions may be subjective agent to agent but it would be cool to hear from people in the business anyway.

    Thanks for the informative upload. These help a lot. They really do.

    Take care.


  7. For the longest time I thought the synopsis and sample were the same thing, just interchangeable terminology. Oops, haha. Great vid, thank you!!

  8. You always have such tasty food in your videos! I want to reach through the screen and grab one of those cookies…

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