This past weekend has been dominated by the hair-raising, hair-ripping experience of writing my first query letter. That means the really hard editing/revising stuff is done, at least. (Though the book is now loaded onto a twelve year old’s Kindle, to get feedback from my target audience. Gah!) I’m scanning the manuscript for word stuff right now–cliches, redundancies, finding better and more economic ways to phrase things, etc.
Can I make a confession here? I’m going to pretend you all just said yes, and gave me soft, encouraging smiles.
I’m really nervous about this manuscript.
I believe in the story. My characters. I know what I’ve done to the manuscript (the rewrite, the deep revisions, the feedback integrated by my amazing alpha readers) has made it hella stronger, and I’m proud to call it mine. ALL MINE! Mwahaha!!!
Ah…right. But there’s still that seed of doubt. That niggling, irritating stone in the bottom of my writerly boot. And at this point I don’t know if it is a legitimate fear, or if I’m just experiencing the built-in self doubt that comes with the whole being creative (being human?) thing.
So, dealing with that while at the same time trying to draft a letter explaining why someone might want to read this staggering work of genius. In 350 words or less. Yay!
I found a couple sites that were helpful during this process.
Successful Query Letters for Literary Agents. Listed here are a number of query letters that garnered representation, for a lot of different genres. YA Fantasy, Steampunk Novel, Lady Lit Mystery. (What is a Lady Lit Mystery?) Seeing how these authors formatted and presented their information helped give me direction on what to include, and how to include it.
How to Write a Query Letter from AgentQuery. I’m sure many of you are familiar with this site. Essentially it’s a database of literary agents, along with some nice resources. Take this article, for example. A very comprehensive look at not just one way to write a query letter, but several different approaches an author can use. Most of this stuff I either didn’t know, or hadn’t considered in this context.
Like, should I use a more ‘formulaic’ style blurb? When necrophiliac Nancy meets celebrity impersonator Ned, sparks begin to fly. But can she overcome her need for necrotic flesh, or will Ned be the next body on the slab?
Or should I try something a little different? Nancy knows she has a problem when the only guys that give her the hots are cold, dead stiffs. At a work party, she meets Ned, in the guise of Elvis Costello, and for the first time her heart beats faster for someone ambulatory. Now, Nancy struggles between her desire for love–and her desire for lifeless corpses.
The article goes on to describe what else is necessary–mini synopsis, author bio–and has a list of resources and examples as well. I think this one article might be enough to illustrate everything one needs to know about query letters.
Lastly, the Query Shark blog is invaluable. This blog is run by a literary agent, and she does the whole literary world a huge favor by dissecting query letters submitted to her by readers. There is a crazy lot of good information here, though it takes some time to get through the archives.
So, I have the draft ready. I have four agents picked for my first mailing. I’ll go through and personalize each of the query letters maybe tomorrow, and then I’ll start trying to breathe while my heart lives in my throat for a while.
Oh! And I finally changed the title. Toulouse is now *drum roll*… A Little Bit of Magic! I think it’s better. Not amazeballs, but better.
Do you have any query letter resources or stories? I’d love to hear them!
Photo used under Creative Commons license from Freddie Pena.