Thursday, January 26, 2012
Okay, so you've written a novel. You've revised said novel. And you've probably rewritten and revised some more. Maybe you have done this multiple times and you've finally, finally gotten to that point that your manuscript is .... *gasp* .... perfect. Or as perfect as you can make it anyway. You probably look at lot like this:
Your next step is query agents. Should be pretty simple. All you have to do is take the last few months (or years in my case) of your life and summarize it in a few brief paragraphs.
Sounds easy, right?
Pffft. As if anything is easy when it comes to writing and publishing a book. So what do you do now? You think about it and you mull it over and you brainstorm some more. You write bits down. You erase and start over. You show it to crit partners and they suggest changes. It's an awful lot like the manuscript writing process. It's a lot of second guessing and reading and rereading. It's challenging, but when you do it right, when it's just about perfect, it can be so worth it.
Maybe you're just so excited at this point because you've written such a great manuscript that you're not worried about your query letter. Maybe it comes easily to you and you're not plagued by the perfectionistic gene that hovered over you the whole time you were drafting. If this is you, I'm happy -- so happy for you!
But if you're more like me, you started writing your query MONTHS in advance. You've researched and bookmarked and saved all of your dream agents in a folder on your computer for when that magical moment comes and you finally hit SEND. And maybe you have over twenty versions of the letter saved on your computer and maybe you lost sleep over just the right wording. After all, you only get one chance to impress. Your dream agent can read that query and be so wowed that they ask for the full immediately. Or your dream agent could send you a form rejection within the hour of sending off the letter.
There are hundreds if not thousands of websites and posts out there dedicated to writing the perfect query letter. I have over thirty bookmarked on my own computer. Here are a few of my favorites:
Formula for a Query Letter
How to Write a Query Letter
The Biggest Mistakes Writers Make When Querying
It's overwhelming, this need to be perfect. It's frightening to know that someone can reject you after only reading 250 words. But it's also exhilarating. This is your chance to shine. Your chance to show off the world and the characters you've created.
Be proud. You've finished that novel. You can handle the query letter. Maybe it's not a perfect process, but like we've been saying all along, perfection is never really attainable. Let your query letter say what it needs to say and make sure you know who you're querying. Then, even as scary as it is, let that baby fly. See what happens. Maybe it doesn't work out this time around, but you know what they say about practice....It makes perfect. :-)