Get this: I have a finished manuscript on my hard drive, one that I really like, one that I slaved over for YEARS, one that I think is ready for the Big Time (at least, for publishing), one that I have stripped and clipped and polished and buzz sawed and tightened and dreamed about, and I’m at an impasse. I can’t seem to get myself to send it to query.
Because although the manuscript is good, my query is not. And I’ve been laboring over the query just as hard as I have the actual story. Yes. I started working on the current incarnation of my query letter in December. I even took a Writers Digest webinar on query letters, and received an edited copy of one of my incarnations back from the agent holding the class. I also have several writers who were kind enough to critique my letter, writers from many different genres. And I gave the query letter to my MR. ED, hoping he could add his own spin.
I’ve researched the masses and masses of info online, for hours and hours, and have come away with killer headaches every time. I’d pull out my hair, but I don’t have much left. I can’t spare a single strand.
I honestly have at least a dozen different query letters for the same query, ranging from bare bones, here’s the story, here’s my contact information, to business letter snappy, to a mini-synopsis wedged into two paragraphs. I’m not happy with any of them. (I’m happy with the story, not with the queries.)
The query letter is a fine art all its own. A good query letter conveys a great pitch. Katharine Sands (high powered agent whom I’ve met and observed in workshops) says the pitch must ‘pop.’ It has to sustain enough pizazz to capture an agent’s attention, leaving
God (I mean) he or she, clamoring to read more. I understand that publishing is a business and businesses survive only by making money, and that agents and publishers tend to gravitate toward that goal, meaning a manuscript and a writer who is succinct and shows promise. Querying is very much like selling your idea.
You know me, I’m not much of a salesman.
Honestly, what if your story is ‘pop’-less? What if it’s not about dragons, demons, vampires, dystopian future worlds, wild bondage sex, wizard man-children, war, pestilence, charmed city girls with a closet full of designer shoes, or impudent teenagers? What if it’s about a woman and her personal struggle, internally, within her friends and family, and/or with an external force dogging her? (Novels I like to read, by the way.)
Enough of my rant: It’s Monday and I have a minute. Quickly (before the phone starts to ring), I will list a few things I would rather do than write a query letter.
4. The dreaded once a year pelvic exam.
5. Picking up dog poo.
6. State audit.
7. Day Job work.
8. Working on the new manuscript.
9. Devising a complicated spreadsheet for the other half.
and last but not least:
10. Poke a needle in my eye.
Enough of my bitching. I have a bookmarked page I must peruse.
Onward and upward, query.