Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My First Query Letter

I’ve been bouncing off the walls since “finishing” my first novel.

First I hired a professional editor, then canceled that.  I reformatted my manuscript into standard format, which was a bigger task than I expected.  (I had to replace all my italics with underlines.  I thought this strange until I saw how poorly italics show up in a courier font.) 

I sent off copies of the manuscript to the writers group and asked for feedback on whether they thought I needed to hire an editor or not.   Still bouncing off the walls, I switched to researching what a query letter to an agent should contain. 

Contrary to its name, a query letter is not about asking any questions.  It is a one page sales pitch designed to first interest an agent in your story, then in yourself.  You jump directly into summarizing in one or two short paragraphs a complex novel filled with characters you’ve spent possibly years crafting.

Last night I finished my first query letter.  And I was still ricocheting like a Racquet ball. 

I needed to focus on writing for NaNoWriMo, where I am already thousands of words behind.  Every time I tried to write I kept being distracted by the thought of the completed novel waiting for the next step.

One of my great strengths and weaknesses is my ability to act impulsively.  To leap, then look.  It is easy to see the disadvantages that such a trait brings with it, but there are advantages as well. 

It allows me to trust my gut.  To move forward into dark and unfamiliar terrain, guided by the confidence of a fool that I will somehow find my way through.  Sometimes this leads to terrible mistakes, but more often it lets me accomplish what dithering and planning would never begin.

So I sat looking at my finished query letter, which I am quite pleased with, and my stomach churned over the fact that I have a finished work ready for submission.  I realized I would have no ability to focus on my next writing task until I acted.  

So I sent my first query letter off to a literary agency, one that gets a “highly recommended” rating from the site Preditors & Editors.

I am calmer now, and I think I can focus again on writing.   The first novel is still in my thoughts, but no longer dominates my mind. I feel like I can now write for NaNoWriMo without the severe distractions that have hampered me so badly this time around.

I’ll post again if I hear something back from the agent, whether the news is good or bad.  Till then, have fun and party down.

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