Saturday, May 10, 2008

Quer-o-matic 2000

This weekend, I made my first attempt at writing out my query letter. Well, technically it wasn't my very first attempt. I have been scribbling--and I mean scribbling--down sentences in my notebook. I even wrote one draft there. But, until this weekend, I had yet to get on down on Word. Well, now I do, with some thanks to my husband, Ben. He and I have been talking about my query for a long time. And today, Ben wanted to take a crack at it. So, I let him write a pitch paragraph for my story. I even let him write it in my beloved Moleskine. I must say, he did a pretty awesome job. I definitely used some of his ideas.

It has been a very eye opening experience, overall. I have learned one very important thing about query letters. You just have to write it all out . . . a thousand times. The pages in my notebook look like chicken scratch. But, I learned that you have to write every wisp of thought that enters your mind. Phase a certain sentence as many ways as possible, until it sounds okay. Yes, it was quite messy, though very productive. I know feel like I have a pretty decent working query letter.

Sometimes I get quite stressed about the quagmire that is the query. So so so SO much rides on that one little sheet of paper. Especially for me, a writer with no publication credits. My query letter alone has to knock the agents' socks off. I wish there was a foolproof method, or a magical machine. Yeah, that would be better. The Quer-o-matic 2000. Just insert a sheet of paper, and a mind-blowing query letter flies out.


Natalie said...

The Query is daunting. For my first novel I could not get it down, which I discovered was because my first book had major flaws, lol.

As I am starting to jot down ideas this time, I feel my query is more solid. It really does take practice and about a bazillion revisions.

I found a recent series on Agent Kristin's blog about building your pitch paragraph. It's gold. Here's the link for the full series:

Kiersten said...

When you perfect that Quer-O-Matic, can I take it for a spin?

Kristin's series is really helpful; also Nathan Bransford has a whole series of posts that are really helpful. And, of course, submitting to EE. You've been popping up more on there! It's always fun to see your name. Plus, you give great advice ; )

Renee Collins said...

Yes, I have read the pitch series on Kristin's blog. Good stuff.

I am still working on it, though I'll probably wait to finish the revisions of my novel before I get really serious. Or no?

What do you guys think? Should I have a sparkling query letter ready as I finish my revisions? Or is it just a distraction until I am ready to submit? I honestly don't know.

Kiersten said...

I surround myself with distractions; I'm a terrible person to ask!

Natalie said...

Honestly I would keep working on it right now. With my first I waited until I had my whole book polished, not knowing how much work it would be to write the dang letter and research agents. That really set me back time wise, and ultimately I didn't even end up going through and trying to publish it.

The Iron Queen isn't even finished and I'm already casually working on a query, just because I want to get this book out faster.

Kiersten said...

It's true, it is a HUGE amount of effort. And the sooner you get the first draft of the query letter, the sooner you can rip it to shreds and improve it again (and again and again!). And I would also recommend writing the synopsis now, too. I don't have one, and it's setting me back because a lot of the agents I want to query want one, so now I have to take even MORE time to perfect a synopsis.

Just don't forget that the most important thing is editing your book. Because you can have the best query in the world, but if they request the manuscript and it isn't where it should be, it's just wasted time.

Renee Collins said...

You guys are great. Thanks for the good advice. :)

I guess I'll just have to multi task . . . even more than I already do.