Agent, Fiction, Novel, Publish, Query, Writing

Writing a novel is easy!

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.

quillscrollA 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.

12 thoughts on “Writing a novel is easy!”

  1. Ouch. Linda, all I can say is that I am so glad that you are doing this before I have to, so I can learn from your experiences. Please keep posting.
    (I admit I chuckled, but it was just for a moment;)

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    1. I was going to say the same thing as calliopespen – though I’m sure it will still be tough when I get there, I’m glad to be able to learn from your experiences, too. Thanks for posting, and I hope all your hard work pays off!!

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    1. You’re welcome, Cathryn. Gee, I hope to get back to some sense of normality here. I’m behind on reading everyone’s blogs. And I see that you have a new flash story up, too. Where does the time go?

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  2. Linda, I know I shouldn’t say this, but wait until you get to the synopsis! I’ve been trying for months (on and off because if I didn’t walk away from it sometimes I’d definitely kill someone). I had to write a bio for a story that got published in a lit magazine and I wrote: “I thought writing a novel was the hardest thing I’d ever done until I started trying to write a synopsis.”

    Come to think of it, I don’t have a query letter I’m happy with either! 😉

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    1. You just had to bring up the synopsis, didn’t you? 🙂 Do we really have to write one? I don’t see a lot about that on the agent blogs I visit. They talk about sending a query and then, when requested, a partial or full manuscript, but not about requesting the synopsis. I think I could pull one together from my scene notes, but I don’t want to. Please don’t make me. Nooooooo……..

      And thanks for saying you like my new photo. It looks rather bizarre in the tiny little one that shows up with these comments though.

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      1. I don’t know, actually, about the synopsis. One agent specifically requested it. I guess I’m hoping we don’t need it. (I am, in fact, hoping there’s some secret much-more-fun way to novel publication than any of the ones I’ve heard of so far. In the meantime, good idea to work on your query letter, girlfriend.)

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  3. Ugh!! I’m dreading writing a query letter. Why can a one page query terrify someone who can write hundreds and hundreds of pages? Maybe we write novels because it’s too hard to try and put such a complex idea into a shorter format. It’s a cruel irony that novel writers have to be judged in such a make it or break it situation by a single page summary!

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