You spent months, perhaps years, writing, revising, editing and polishing your novel or memoir. Your goal is to see it in bookstores and in the hands of readers. If you choose to pursue the traditional publishing road, this means having that manuscript accepted by a literary agent, or the editor of a small press. Your calling card is your query letter. You have one page—four or five paragraphs, four-hundred words—to sell your book, convey your voice, state your credentials, and make the case why, out of the hundreds of queries an agent receives each year, your story is one of the few she should represent.
This workshop will examine each element of a stand-alone query letter, with particular emphasis on crafting your book’s “hook." We’ll also discuss how to find agents to query, and how the query and pitch processes works, but most of our time will be spent crafting your query letter. Even if your book is in the earliest stages—a first draft, an outline or collection of research notes—working on a query letter is an excellent way to articulate what you are writing about, who your readers are, and what sets your story apart from the rest.
Participants will have time to work separately on each section of their query letter in class and have the opportunity to receive feedback if they choose to share portions of their query with the group. The bulk of workshop time will be spent on the “meat” of the query: the hook. The goal is for each participant to leave with a working query that they can hone and polish as they plan their submission process.
*This workshop will focus on works of fiction and memoir; narrative nonfiction queries are usually accompanied by substantive proposals, which are animals of a different sort. But non-fiction writers are encouraged to participate; the basic principles and sources of information hold true for any one-page query letter, which all writers will be expected to present.
Instructor: Julie Christine Johnson is the award-winning author of the novels In Another Life (Sourcebooks, 2016) and The Crows of Beara (Ashland Creek Press, 2017). Her short stories and essays have appeared in several journals, including Emerge Literary Journal; Mud Season Review; Cirque: A Literary Journal of the North Pacific Rim; Cobalt; River Poets Journal, in the print anthologies Stories for Sendai; Up, Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers; and Three Minus One: Stories of Love and Loss; and featured on the flash fiction podcast No Extra Words. She holds undergraduate degrees in French and Psychology and a Master’s in International Affairs. Julie leads writing workshops and seminars and offers story/developmental editing and writer coaching services.
A hiker, yogi, and wine geek, Julie makes her home on the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington state.