Since my levels of public humiliation know no bounds, I have decided to share some of my many adventures in sending out the dreaded query letter. There are enough self-help blogs out there to tell you the right way of doing things, so I will not presume to offer such sage wisdoms here. I have none. Nor do I entirely ascribe to the idea that there is an over-arching “right way”. I have read enough to know that what tickles the fancy of one agent will annoy the pants off another. What I do hope to accomplish with my self-emulation, if nothing else, is a minor distraction from the stresses of what countless writers undergo every single day.
Some writers never quite get to number one. Theirs is always a WIP. Others get to number two and never leave the loop. There is so much to correct, massage, reinvent, re-imagine, and rewrite, number two will sustain them for decades to come. Number three can be hard because what do you leave out and what do you keep without loosing the gist of the story. (The cat on the street corner seemed so significant at the time. Certainly he warrants a mention at the number three stage.) Number four is the nightmare version of number three. No one gets a mention and the witty repartee – lost on the cutting room floor. Five hundred pages whittled down to a few measly paragraphs, but if you make it past number four, the query letter awaits you.
We won’t discuss my age. It is as off-limits a subject as discussing the NRA at a church social. What I will say is that when it comes to writing and sending out query letters, there is a part of me that feels a bit like a child. Positively pubescent in fact. I get all nervous. My voice cracks, and I don’t even have to actually talk to anyone. That is how jittery the process can be for me. I haven’t sent out many and perhaps my inexperience is what causes the quaver, but my super slick professional veneer that exists in my high tech day job shatters at the start of the “Dear Mr/Ms.” of the query letter.
Word to the wise or the morbidly retarded. Always ALWAYS say “thank you for your time” at the end of a query letter. You don’t have to use those words but find some way of showing your appreciation to the reading agent for them reading your correspondence. That simple token can go a long way and the lack of it can put the breaks on.
Yep. Google apparently has a new and marvelous feature in their gmail system that ties into the email address auto complete. If an gmail account exists that is similar to one that you are entering, Google now offers it as a dropdown recommendation even if you don’t know the person, aren’t connected to them, and have no freaking clue who the heck they are. I saw author and stephens which are both in my email address and I tabbed to accept. It was the only address that was recommended which made sense because it was the only one like it that I had set up in my contacts. But Google wasn’t looking at MY contacts. It was looking out into the world of people I didn’t know.
If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to connect with H.L. Stephens on Google+, Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter. Also check out H.L. Stephen’s mystery series The Chronicles of Mister Marmee. Book 1 – The Case of Jack the Nipper and book 2 – The Case of the Wayward Fae are available in print and eBook format. Coming Soon! Book 3 – The Case of the Monkey’s Misfortune.