I never thought writing a one page query letter could be more difficult than writing a 350 page novel. In a query, I have one paragraph and three to five sentences to reel the agent into my fictional world. My pitch must be succinct, colorful, and end with a hook that gets the agent’s attention. My dream: once they read my brilliant query, they will want to read the rest of my manuscript. The reality: it is tough out there in the publishing world, and I will probably receive rejections no matter how great my query letter is. After all, rejection is part of a writer’s life.
After researching numerous resources on the internet, it took me about two weeks to complete my query letter. I stared at the blank page, and then wrote stupid sentences and long rambling paragraphs. Finally, I found a template at the Writers Beware blog, and the premise behind this skeleton of a letter began to take shape.
I have heard that pitching your novel is like speed dating—you have three to five minutes to tell a potential significant other about your greatest qualities. You must deliver a vivid picture of your novel in as few words as possible. It is essential to acquire both verbal and written skills in providing an unforgettable snapshot of your novel. You never know when you might run into an agent.
Last night before turning in, I posted my query letter at Absolute Write in Query Letter Hell in the Share Your Work forum. I was surprised this morning to find five or six replies, all of which were thoughtful and honest. The biggest compliment I received was that my query was solid. Someone else could not help me with the query but wanted to read more. Some writers suggested changes, which I incorporated into my final draft.
I have acquired a list of eight agents using Query Tracker. I have checked them all out at Preditors and Editors. I have researched their websites viewed their client lists, and read their blogs. What is the next step?
Tomorrow, I will buy nice off-white stationary with matching envelopes. I will personalize my query for each agent. This next week, I will send out queries to the eight agents. My plan? To keep sending those queries out until I find a reputable agent to represent my work.
If you are in the query process, keep your chin up no matter what. Start working on your next novel.
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