There’s no way around it. Writing query letters sucks. I thought researching agents was bad enough. But actually crafting each query letter for the agent’s requirements and preferences is just brutal. Let me be clear though, it’s not the writing part necessarily (although, that is tedious). It’s the emotions behind it and the never ending self-questioning.
What if I leave out a plot point that could have totally sold the story?
What if I mention too many characters (or too few)?
What if I’m selling myself short?
What if I sound like I’m bragging?
How do I convey that I have a book worth reading?
The sheer number of permutations and approaches is mind-boggling. That’s not to mention the odds of breaking through. One agent I looked at this week said they get anywhere from 80-120 queries a day. A DAY?! What could possibly make my query letter jump out from that pile? Another agent I looked at said that they are usually on an eight week backlog, so if I don’t hear back within eight to twelve weeks that means they aren’t interested. Well, who would be? If I had a backlog that big, I might not even show up to work in the morning. I know fear of missing out must drive an agent’s work, but how do they see the gold mixed in with the dog shit?
Not to mention the fact that I am currently putting my lifelong dream of being a published author in the subjective hands of another person.
I have to remind myself there are three big hurdles here:
Number One: Write the book
Thankfully, I have done that. And I’m so happy with it. It’s such a great book. I really want everyone to read it.
Number Two: Get an agent
So yeah, that’s in the works. Aside from sending out query letters (and yes, I did start that this week), I am also signed up for a workshop in June where I’ll get to meet an agent face-to-face and I’m contemplating another workshop in the fall.
Number Three: My future agent gets my book sold to a future publisher
Obviously, nothing I can do about this one right now. Some folks have told me to try and go straight to the publishers (or to try hybrid publishing) but honestly I’m not ready for that right now.
So yes, if I want to be glass is half-full, I’ve jumped the first major hurdle and I’m on my way over the second.
And, if I want to answer my own questions regarding my query letters, I think the only thing I can do is be as authentic as possible. Try not to be gimmicky. Try not to market. Try not to be something I’m not. Just write up what interests and hooks me about the book and have faith that it will it interest and hook other people.
So yes. This is my big, bold “I’ve started sending query letters” blog post. Maybe not as triumphant as I once imagined it being, but it’s where I’m at. I’m sending query letters. And it sucks. But, ultimately, I have to have faith that it will be worth it.