Until Karen Mentor emailed to ask if I was all right, I didn’t realize that my last post was three days ago. All of my writing time has been devoted to crafting a query letter. You know, that simple little business letter that’s so crucial to your publishing career.
A query is the literary equivalent to the golden ticket, the backstage pass, the key code. No matter how marvelous you think your book is—and it can be no less than astounding—without an impeccable query with the perfect combination of confidence, craft, and cunning you have no hope of obtaining agent representation. And without an agent, you’ll never grab the ear of a publisher. Without a publisher … well … you’re back to square one.
Part of me dreaded finishing my novel because I knew I’d have to start working on my query letter. I had kept notes for the query as I wrote: an idea here, a line there. Occasionally, I’d open that doc and see if those bits had magically arranged themselves into something coherent. No such luck.
But I had no choice; I had to write the danged thing. So I did. A concise beauty. I’m done, right? Oh, how we fiction writers like to dream. Now, it’s time to revise the query. Smooth this sentence. Cut this word. Add this phrase. Okay, that’s done. Next, it’s time to check that list of potential agents I’ve compiled over the last few months and decide which ones to query first.
Oh, but wait! Three agents on my list are no longer accepting queries. Two are now only looking for romance and mystery. One wants query only. Most say to paste 3-5 pages of the manuscript into the email. A few don’t say either way. One wants to know, right up front, why you are querying them specifically. Three others don’t care, they want you to jump right to the story. Some want the query to start with genre and word count. Others want it at the end of the query. They’ve all given me a pounding headache.
And I thought writing the book was the hard part!
You can laugh now.