“We are tied down to a language that makes up in obscurity what it lacks in style.”—Player, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Me and Query Letters

No, I can't tell you how to write these things. That's what Query Shark is for. Also, check the agent's submission requirements. They're, like, RIGHT THERE.

I gotta say, though, that the terror is beginning to subside. There was a time when the mere thought of a query letter made me sick with fear--after all, rejection is usually a bad thing, right? Every "no" I received was as though someone had threatened my child with burning at the stake.

Just to clarify, I have no children--no flesh-and-blood real ones, at any rate. I have an aquarium, though. (I love my little fishies.)

Regardless, being a writer (at least for me) is a bit like taking pieces of yourself and focusing them. It's like every facet of who I am has this perfect angle, this odd shape, which produces the most wonderful colors and pictures when held at just the right position in front of the sun or moon. I've learned so much about myself, thanks to my characters. It can be a little bit disturbing, actually.

Occasionally, I'm blinded because I've looked too closely, but that's my own fault.

Anyway, query letters were once this harbinger of doom to me--an invitation for people with power to take aim at my soul and blow little chunks out of it, bit by bit.

But these days, not so much.

"But Cyh, you've yet to be published!" I can hear the empty walls cry. (Admit it, nobody's reading this. :P )

Well, yes, that's true, but what does that really mean? Does it mean that my writing is terrible? Does it meant that I offend every agent to whom I send a query? Does it mean that I'm actually a ghost trapped in this computer, and OH, GOD! SOMEONE LET ME OUT!!!

Short answer: No. (Except the ghost thing. It may happen--I'm not psychic.)

Long answer: No--HOWEVER, it may mean that perhaps my previous queries were unpolished. Maybe I just sent them to the wrong agents. Maybe I didn't really understand what a query letter is supposed to do. It's hard to tell, sometimes, but I can only assume that my writing style wasn't accurately conveyed through the query. 

Or maybe it was, and the agent hated it?

In that case, suum cuique. To each their own. I'm not here to force them to read my stuff or change their preferences. I'm just here to say, "Yo, I got this thing you might like." If they want more, WOO-HOO! If not, I move on. Fortunately, I've yet to receive a degrading or cruel response, but I'm prepared for those, too.

Anyway, having attempted the querying process about four years ago, followed by extensive revisions and triage to my book (it used to be about 350,000 words...like cutting out my own liver, I swear), I've finally got this whole query thing figured out...maybe. I'm gonna do it properly this time! *shakes fist* And to the world, all I can say is:

(I just hope I'm not naked and wearing a cowboy hat when this happens...well, maybe the cowboy hat can stay.)

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