Thursday, August 6, 2009

Query Letters...What...What?

Getting a novel published can be a curious thing. Once Thomas had completed his project at the beginning of this year we started on the long journey to get on a bookstore's shelves. We researched how the process worked and learned that a good resource for new authors is the book entitled Writer's Market. There are several editions of this particular book for the various types of things you may pen and a couple that contain all the information. They also have a website that is updated daily.
After purchasing it we discovered that one of the first steps is to write a query letter to literary agents. There are very detailed instructions on what to include in this note for example a word count, short author bio and a good book description. The purpose of this letter is to grab the agent's attention enough that they request to see your manuscript or additional pages.
They remind you in this book that the road to becoming a published author is a brutal one full of rejections. Shortly after we mailed the first round the rejection letters started rolling in. They came in all shapes and sizes, but all had two common factors the basic rejection and the encouragement to keep submitting to others. Several people requested pages although with the quality of the project not as many as I assumed. After a month letters came for them as well.
After this last one we took a hard look at our text book style query letter. Those of you who have read the project know how good it is and how much it draws you in. Most haven't read it and are probably wondering what this person who likes vampire literature would even know. For me to read anything I have to connect with its characters they have to attack me and hold my attention. The characters come alive shortly after you open the book. Most readers want to be captured by a story and this book will succeed in doing this to pretty much anyone. So I was the one that wrote the initial query letter and its decent, but the problem is as my husband says, "You're a pretty writer." Its true. Leaving out the grit, I turned Thomas' suspense filled novel into a lovey dovey sounding piece. People don't want mushy mystery novels, but clearly that's what I was trying to sell. So we're going to rework it and I'm making Thomas write it. One of the important pieces of a query letter is so the agent sees what style you write and in this case they didn't.
Every agents has ultimately been right. Just because one doesn't like the project doesn't mean another won't. We didn't give them the chance, but we will now. The new query letters will not only grab there attention, but will leave them only wanting more.

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