QueryDay… and a Q4U

Okay, now that we’ve all had sufficient time to totally deconstruct QueryFail and AgentFail (and hopefully recover), I wanted to let you know that today is QueryDay on Twitter… and yes, I’m participating.

Why, oh why, would I do such a thing?

Well, here’s why. In the interest of grace, and second chances, and the reality that we all need a do-over sometimes, I’m joining with my fellow agents in this chance to get it right. We love engaging with writers (which is why many of us blog). We want to give you the best chance to impress us with your queries. So, we’re trying this again. Last time it was “QueryFail” but we’re 86-ing the negativity and simply calling it QueryDay. We’ll post tips, along with things we like and dislike in queries. We’ll also be answering as many questions as possible, in 140 characters or fewer.

I can’t be sure how this is going to go and I can’t promise all the participants will follow the rules (which Colleen Lindsey posted here). I personally will not engage in snark or cruelty. I will not make fun of writers. In most cases, I will not reference specific queries; but if I do, I won’t include any information that could identify the writer or their project.

Just so you know, I’m not going to be hanging out on Twitter all day. I’ve been going through queries the last few days and I’ve already written down most of my tweets. However, if you want to Tweet me a question, just use @RachelleGardner in the Tweet, and I’ll get it right away and answer.

* * *

And now for today’s question. Lately I’ve been noticing that the Internet is overflowing with information from publishing types. And sometimes I wonder if at some point, we’ve said just about all there is to say. I’ve tossed around the idea of stopping my blog; but then I quickly argue with myself… I don’t want to stop the blog because it’s such an integral part of my day, my work life, my relationships with writers, and my ability to stay in touch with what’s going on in the general consciousness.

So I was wondering… should I branch out in the subjects I discuss on the blog? Are there areas I haven’t covered that you want to know about? Do you have questions that nobody seems to be discussing? Maybe there are even some topics that aren’t specifically about publishing but somehow related. I want to continue the blog, and I don’t want to keep rehashing the same topics. Any ideas for me?

Post them in the comments. And don’t forget to ask a question on Twitter today if you want.

Have a great weekend!
Rachelle Gardner, Christian literary agent, WordServe Literary Group, Colorado.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Anna Hartley on April 23, 2009 at 8:55 PM

    >Your blog is SO good . . . I hope you are able to continue!

    I like the “Day in the Life of an Agent” idea, and I have a couple of questions for you:

    1) What times of year are your busiest? (Are you swamped with work during certain months?)

    2) Will great writing inevitably cause word-of-mouth publicity producing a wide readership? Have you edited or agented a book that this happened to?

    Thanks for helping writers! You are a gem! 🙂

  2. Sharon Rainey on April 21, 2009 at 6:11 AM

    >keep writing and keep writing about what you know and what you do best. i learn alot from each of your blogs and i am enthralled by your honesty, straight shooting attitude. You give it like it is and that’s what i need! please keep going as is. I LOVE QUERY DAY. Is SO much better than QUERY FAIL. just a whole different tone. Thank you for being instrumental in that change!!!

  3. Ava Quinn on April 20, 2009 at 1:31 PM

    >Hi, Rachelle. Like all the other commenters, I would be sad if you decided to give up your blog. It shines a light into the publishing world that many newbies like myself don’t get to see very often.

    Future blog posts could focus on the wonders of the book contract.

    Information on contracts and contract pitfalls would be interesting. What items are typical in a standard contract. What should be avoided? What jargon should an author be familiar with? Translations to legalese that might make a first timer stumble.

    Thanks for giving us the opportunity to respond!

  4. Anonymous on April 19, 2009 at 11:20 AM

    >Would you discuss the 80-20 wall I’ve hit with agents?

    Agents have told me what I have written is good.

    But, the Christian market is 80 percent female. And they don’t like the type of stuff I write.

    It leads me to believe that Christian women want the equivalent of a literary foot-rub.

    I don’t write for women only.

    Should I give up my literary fiction? Or crucify my integrity and hope it resurrects three days later in the form of a 5-book series on a Midwestern evangelical family?

  5. Sharon Kirk Clifton on April 19, 2009 at 10:10 AM

    >I only recently discovered this blog, so I hope that you will reject the idea of ending it. I like Lynnda’s idea about your doing “A Day in the Life of an Agent.” That would be interesting.


  6. Anonymous on April 18, 2009 at 7:08 PM

    >the writing contests are fun! More of those may be nice!

  7. Marybeth on April 18, 2009 at 5:07 PM

    >Well now that it’s clear that no one likes your blog… 🙂

    Let me also encourage you NOT to quit blogging. I don’t think enough agents blog these days. Regardless of repeat information or even just a small sample of how life is treating you on that day, your blog helps us writers in so many ways.

  8. Lell on April 18, 2009 at 1:15 PM

    >As I’m sure you know, at least four types of blogging exist: 1) blogging to see you own words on the screen, 2) blogging to offer an opinion and/or vent, 3) blogging to entertain, and 4) blogging as a service for someone else’s benefit. You blog is definitely in category #4! My prayer is that God blesses you for blessing us.

    I have a suggestion for you. Could you occasionally give us “A Day in the Life of an Agent” blog? It could be something funny, unusual, frustrating, encouraging, boring… We are interested in all of it because it is a window into a world we have never seen for ourselves.
    Thank you for caring.

  9. Adam S. on April 18, 2009 at 6:08 AM

    >Hi Rachelle. I’m in Northern Africa and don’t have the ability to “tweet”, but I do have a comment. From reading the comments above, you should know that your blog is greatly appreciated.

    If I were to liken your blog to something, it would be to that of hot fudge brownies straight out of the oven. Absolutely awesome any day of the week, especially with a large ice cold glass of ‘low fat’ milk. But when you add all US “nuts” on top, it takes on a whole new meaning and adds a different kind of flavor that tosses redundancy out the window. You’re a great role model and never forget, “The lives you never knew you affected, are generally the one’s you’ve affected the most!”

    Be Blessed,

  10. Megan on April 18, 2009 at 3:01 AM

    >PLEASE don’t stop blogging!
    i love reading whatever you write: and even if you go over topics which you’ve already covered its OK cuz you say it in different ways and have different examples.
    its always interesting to read:)

  11. Lady Glamis on April 17, 2009 at 8:09 PM

    >Please don’t stop blogging! I think what I’d like to see more from agents is what they, themselves, like to write. I’m sorry if you’ve already shared that on here and I’ve missed it. I may have come in late in the game.

    Or do most agents write at all? I can imagine you’d probably have no time. Unless you stopped blogging, which I hope you don’t do! You are so helpful. I only read 3 agent’s blogs regularly, and you’re one of them. 😀

  12. Mikki Black on April 17, 2009 at 7:52 PM

    >Here’s a question for you: Why don’t you represent fantasy/sci-fi?

    Soooooooooooooooooooo just kidding.

    I love your blog! And I love SF, too, but I won’t hold that against you. Even when you repeat or repost, I enjoy reading your comments and thoughts. Sometimes I’ve missed the first ones and sometimes it’s just nice to be reminded.

    Thanks for writing.

  13. Elise on April 17, 2009 at 6:24 PM

    >Please don’t stop blogging. When Miss Snark stopped, it took me weeks to recover. I’ve only recently started reading your blog and, despite the fact that I’ve read similar material before, you present your own unique perspective on it.

    I heartily agree with Cindy’s points. The same topic can take on new meaning when the reader is at a different point in their life and career.

    I hope you’ll be blogging for a long time to come.

  14. Jen and Kev on April 17, 2009 at 12:59 PM

    I would be willing to stop eating chocolate for one entire day if you promise not to stop blogging!

    I have never read a ditto on your blog. Even if you did repeat a topic, it would be okay, since you’d find a snappy way to reiterate it.

  15. Meg Trotter on April 17, 2009 at 11:43 AM

    >I wish my work computer didn’t block Twitter! I miss out on so much. lol.

    I’ve just recently come across your blog and it’s one of the first things I read every morning before diving into work. I hope you’ll keep posting as long as you still enjoy it. I love reading anything related to publishing/writing/reading/etc.

  16. Frances Davis, RNC on April 17, 2009 at 11:29 AM

    >Your blog has been a Godsend to so many writers. Like Krista, I loved the critique of elevator pitches. I immediately revamped mine!

    I read other writing blogs, but I always find the best, and most entertaining, information here. Please don’t stop yet!

  17. lynnrush on April 17, 2009 at 10:14 AM

    >I’m not much on the ideas. On my blog I have three theme days and that helps with the ideas for me.

    Maybe there could be a couple theme days for you per week. Like a critique day or something. I really like the Q4U day because I like reading everyones responses. I learn a lot from them too.

    Keep up the good work. You’ve touched many lives through this blog.

  18. C.J. Darlington on April 17, 2009 at 9:51 AM

    >I love learning more about the behind the scenes stuff that goes on at publishing houses.

  19. Teri D. Smith on April 17, 2009 at 9:43 AM

    >I love Karen Witemeyer’s suggestions!

    And there’s still plenty of us with lots to learn. One time around isn’t enough for some of us.

    Keep it up!

  20. Achim Zahren on April 17, 2009 at 9:43 AM

    >You leak encouragement. Sure, the information is valuable ( thank you so much) but what I get from both you and all the other wonderful people on this blog is encouragement. Encouragement to continue writing and enecouragement to keep believing. Please don’t stop.

  21. Cindy on April 17, 2009 at 9:25 AM

    >Oh, please don’t stop your blog, unless you’re being led to do so! I would love to see you branch out on more topics, however the ones you have never grow dull to me. I’ll tell you three reasons why “rehashing” these topics is actually very wonderful.

    A) When you post on a topic you already covered (or someone else already covered), you do it in a new way and from a new POV so we get extra info

    B) New writers and readers are hopping over to follow your blog all the time, so the information is new to them

    C) Even when I’ve seen topics posted over again in your blog (or the same as another blog), I am always at a different place in my own writing journey so it affects me differently. I am able to glean something new from the post despite the fact it’s a repeated topic.

    So, I guess you know where I stand! Thanks so much for your wonderful blog!

  22. Stephanie Reed on April 17, 2009 at 9:22 AM

    >What you have to say will always be new to someone out there.

    I have a question. I’ve tried to get my (unagented) writing buddy to consult an agent about this. She has 4 books in a current series for kids. Two more books are coming out. A second publisher contacted her about using her books to create lapbook kits: http://www.squidoo.com/lapbooking. My friend’s current publisher said this is fine and they don’t have an interest in participating as long as proper permissions are obtained. My friend told the second publisher it’s fine with her and asked for no compensation at all.

    My question is: is she crazy? Aren’t the characters she created her intellectual property? Shouldn’t she be compensated in some way for the right to use them in lapbook kits?

  23. Kat Harris on April 17, 2009 at 9:14 AM

    >Noooooo! You can’t stop blogging!

    *falls to knees crying*

    Please, I beg you!

    You’ve done so many great things on how to snag and agent and realities of the publishing industry, but you have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the nuts and bolts of how to develop characters, plot points, voice, TENSION.

    Do any of your writers experience a type of sophomore slump? (I’m thinking this is something beyond writer’s block.)

    We’re starving writers, hungry for advice of any kind that will help us get our foot in the door.

    Your posts don’t have to be 500-word essays on publishing. Single-sentence tidbits of inspiration will do, too.

    You do such an incredible job. Keep up the good work.

  24. Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect on April 17, 2009 at 8:51 AM

    >Rachelle, I know you blog for writers, and I can only imagine how helpful they find your posts. I read your blog for a slightly different reason: I want to change careers and become an editor. Your blog has taught me SO much about the world of publishing! I’d love to hear more about the career side of publishing, whether specifically about your career path or more general observations, if you’d ever want to share something like that.

  25. Karen Witemeyer on April 17, 2009 at 8:49 AM

    >Here are a couple of brainstorms for you:

    One poster this week mentioned how she wished she could see sample proposals to get a better idea of how to write hers. Maybe you could ask some of your authors (I would be willing) for permission to share excerpts from their queries or proposals that you felt were well done. You could have a sample day once a week. One day you could focus on the opening grabber sentence. Maybe another day could be spent on the platform or marketing section. You could do one on back cover copy, etc.

    Another idea is to expand content to cover information beyond acquiring an agent. Marketing ideas, how to work well with your editors,how to build a career beyond your first book, etc. Even before I had a contract, I was keenly interested in these issues that seemed hidden behind a curtain that only the published could see.

    My $.02. Thanks for all you do to make this publishing journey easier.

  26. Hillary on April 17, 2009 at 8:16 AM

    >Maybe it would be helpful to you to post a new blog twice a week rather than every day? I can imagine how difficult it can be to come up with new material daily. That way you don’t have to stop it entirely, and your readers still get fresh insight from you.

  27. Jill on April 17, 2009 at 8:06 AM

    >I’ve been following your blog for just a couple of months now. I haven’t found anything rehashed yet. And even when you cover a topic I already know something about, I usually still end up picking up little gems of knowledge that I lacked. Keep it up!

  28. Krista Phillips on April 17, 2009 at 7:57 AM

    >It’s funny, lately I’d been thinking about the vast amount of ‘how to’ information on the internet and how really, some of it IS redundant.

    But…I echo everyone else when I say, “Please Don’t Stop Blogging!”

    I liked when you critiqued our one sentence elevator pitches. I know that was a HUGE bite for you to chew and I’m sure very time consuming, but it was fun to a.) read everyone else’s pitches and b.) Hear your advice and critiques of them.

    So, are there other things we could throw out there for critique? Or how about stuff on marketing, specifically on writing the marketing or bio section of the proposal. Or just the proposal itself. I’m sure you’ve touched on these in the past, but like others I’m a relatively new blog reader and haven’t had a chance to go back and read all of your old posts.

    I also ditto the “monthly stats” suggestion and “the call” guest blogger stories.

  29. Pam Halter on April 17, 2009 at 7:50 AM

    >I’m going to step off topic here and ask, what about Britian’s Got Talent?? How totally cool is that? I’m not a faithful American Idol watcher because of my schedule, but I sure would try to make time to watch BGT and see how Susan Boyle fairs. If we long- suffering authors aren’t encouraged by this women to keep going, nothing will move us.

    Now, back on topic: personally, I think repeating some things is good because there are folks who simply don’t get it the first time.

    I also like industry news and guest bloggers now and then as well as examples of good and not-so-good queries.

  30. Rachel on April 17, 2009 at 7:31 AM

    >I agree with Katy. I’m bleary-eyed and late for where-I’m-going, but what am I doing? Reading your blog.

  31. Rachel on April 17, 2009 at 7:29 AM

    >I will be so thoroughly bummed if you quit blogging. I’m always interested, and I always learn a lot, so I think your posts must be relevant. One thing Mary DeMuth does that is cool is to take apart a particular opening paragraph or query letter and goes through it sentence by sentence. I love looking at those and getting a chance to see through editorial eyes (I know she isn’t an agent, but I know you are a writer, too, and could deconstruct an opening paragraph in a very helpful way). I bet people would offer theirs up to you to use, so no one would cry “snark foul!” More than anything, I think writers want constructive feedback.

  32. Anonymous on April 17, 2009 at 7:19 AM

    >I’d be so sad if you stopped your blog. I find that it’s helpful to hear current information about subject that have already been discussed. I’d love to hear your thoughts on platform and how to establish that. Just got a response to a query saying that my book was much needed, but…

    So…what came first, the platform or the book? And how?

  33. christa on April 17, 2009 at 7:03 AM

    >I’m with Katy. (I mean, really, who wouldn’t want to be?!)

  34. Sharon A. Lavy on April 17, 2009 at 6:57 AM

    >Rachelle you get new readers every day. I did not know about your blog last year. So when you repeat it is still new to many of us.

  35. Katy McKenna on April 17, 2009 at 6:55 AM

    >May I just say how proud I am to be associated with an agent who writes, when referring to her Twitter posts, that she’ll be using “140 characters or fewer”? Not that I would have expected anything less, but still…. 🙂

    I am startled, though, to read that you hope to continue blogging in order to “stay in touch with what’s going on in the general consciousness.”

    You do realize, don’t you, that most of us read your blog FIRST, when we haven’t even had enough coffee to get in touch with our individual consciousnesses? I’m just sayin’. 🙂

  36. Gwen Stewart on April 17, 2009 at 6:44 AM

    >I have an idea, Rachelle…

    How ’bout “Writer’s Rescue” or some such thing? Blog readers could put their names in a virtual “hat”. If you “draw” them, they present an problem they’re experiencing to the group. It could pertain to craft, publishing, pitching, choosing future projects, creating an appropriate title–etc, etc.

    You would not have to wade through issues, which would be time-consuming. If the name is drawn, the writer could choose what problem to address (of course you approve the content).

    Readers offer advice during the day, then you could weigh in at the end, pointing out which advice you found most valuable. That way, the writer would have the benefit of your opinion without you having to offer one-on-one critique.

    This kind of support is offered on other writers’ forums, but issues are often limited to specific topics or there’s no benefit of a publishing professional’s opinion.

    Thanks for your great blog, and thanks for letting me offer my two cents. The market value of those two cents is not very high…but I appreciate the opportunity!

  37. Jody Hedlund on April 17, 2009 at 6:09 AM

    >I really liked when you used to post your monthly stats. It was an interesting way to get a glimpse into an agent’s work load. I’m not sure if you keep track the way you used to, but if so, I’m sure we would all find it enlightening!

    And, I’ll beg along with everyone else! Please don’t stop your blog! It’s wonderful to get the perspective of a Christian agent on the writer’s life and the publishing industry. Thanks for all your hard work to minister to us!

  38. Karen on April 17, 2009 at 6:05 AM

    >Please don’t stop your blog. Your voice is refreshing and encouraging.

    I like the idea of you branching into other areas of publishing. Maybe giving us a “hotlist” once in a while? What trends do you see? What conferences do you like? What do you think about writing courses or getting a degree in Creative Writing? What’s it like to live in Colorado? –Oh, that’s not publishing 😉

  39. Lisa Jordan on April 17, 2009 at 5:55 AM

    >Stop blogging??? Say it isn’t so!! Your blog is the first one I read every morning. I’ve learned so much since I’ve found it. I truly appreciate the free advice you give us on a daily basis. I haven’t had time to go back through the archives to read posts from before I started reading, so I may be repeating suggestions, but here are mine, for what they’re worth:

    I love your guest bloggers’ posts. I love hearing “The Call” stories. Perhaps you could have your authors blog about their experiences when you contacted them to offer to represent them.

    I like to read how to articles on the craft of writing, but can get those on sites dedicated to that sort of thing. But reading from an agent’s POV helps me to understadn what agents love about books they can’t put down–characterization, setting, etc.

    If you decide to stop blogging at some point, I hope you’ll leave your site up because it’s like finding a secret treasure!

  40. Kristen on April 17, 2009 at 2:31 AM

    >Your blog has taught me so much just in the few months that I’ve been following it. Seriously–thank you so much for how you’ve explained the “scary big world” of publishing to those of us who desperately want to be a part. You’ve been honest in your assessments and still encouraged me to keep hoping!!

    As I am new to your blog, I need to go back and read older entries first before I ask questions that perhaps have already been answered.
    If I can think of any more, I will be sure to send them.

    Thank you so much!


  41. Kim Kasch on April 17, 2009 at 1:13 AM

    >It would be a dark day in cyberdom if you were to stop your blog 🙁

    You are a light on the dim path to publication for all us wannabe writers 🙂

    I have so many ?s, but I’ll try to think of one good one to tweet – it would be my first time. . .

    Have a wonderful weekend!