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Gigi Will Know: Is there a way around querying?

"Publishing is not a meritocracy. Whoever told you that should be forced to read the phone book from end to end, and then backward."

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Have a query about craft? Need some clarification on an aspect of the publishing industry? Looking for career advice? Email your queries to [email protected] with the subject line “Advice Column.” We can’t wait to read your questions!


I used to be able to charm my way in and out of everything I wanted at will. But there is a problem. I can’t seem to write a query, synopsis, and whatever. The book is finished, but I can’t seem to do the selling myself. Been retired too long. Lost my talent. Is there any way around this?

—Skirting the Issue


Dear Skirt,


Love, Gigi.

Hunh? Oh, sorry, your letter had me seeing red, and I blacked out for a second. Come on: When was the last time you actually met a “charming” writer? We are all crabbed over from staring at our keyboards. We talk to ourselves. Our fingers are permanently formed into claws from holding them at “ready to transmit genius thoughts” position. Charm has eff-all to do with your capability to represent your work and to know it so intimately that you are able to write a synopsis and a query letter from it.

Second. Publishing is not a meritocracy. Whoever told you that should be forced to read the phone book from end to end, and then backward. Talent and age have just as much to do with this whole thing as charm does, which is to say, utterly nothing.

OK. Are you still with me? Here is some actionable advice. Step back from your work. I am going to assume that you’ve already done the requisite internet research on how to write the things you mention. Then sit down and have a crack at your synopsis and query letter (what in the bull honkey is “whatever”?).


You asked if there was any way around it. You can pay someone to do this for you. But why would you miss out on a chance to practice selling your work, practicing for the time when you have your packed-house book event, and you have to pull out that query-letter language anyway?

Come on.

You can do this. You should do this.