Category Archives: Query letters

Post-NaNo

Success!

Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I achieved my writing goal for the month of November. That kept me away from here for a while, and I didn’t pick it back up right away with witty blurbs about the hellish holiday season I endured or other musings. Sorry about that, folks, but I’m back and wilder than ever.

I’m really liking the bones of the novel I banged out for NaNoWriMo. What was most interesting to me about the exercise is that I found myself relying much more heavily on dialogue than narrative in cranking out the pages during the marathon speed writing event. I enjoyed that, but as a result I’ve got something more like a screenplay than a novel. So, I think my revisions will be more about filling in the blanks than cutting the purple out of my prose. We shall see. I have yet to send the NaNoWriMo manuscript into the cold abattoir of my editing self, but it is making noise in the corral.

Instead, I have been polishing up a synopsis for my finished manuscript FREE AMERICA and working on sending out some query letters to agents. At the same time, I am considering self-publication for FREE AMERICA. Things are so different in the self-publishing world since I began my fiction writing journey in earnest a decade ago. It seems to make a certain amount of business sense for me to pursue self-publication until I’ve got a bigger body of work to go around hawking. By that time, I might be making enough money that I would rather hire an intellectual property attorney than an agent. Who knows.

So, all you indie authors out there, do you have recommendations for good freelance editors, book cover designers and other resources? Please let me know. I’m going to be digging in to that stuff over the next few weeks.

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My Two Favorite Words

This Friday, I typed my two favorite words into my manuscript:

THE END

I had been working on a major rewrite of the third act since mid-summer, and I knew the ending was lacking that certain undefinable something. I kept poking it around, hoping it would jump up and grab me, when last week it finally did. I typed like a fiend in every moment I could steal away from my “real job” until, Friday evening, it was finished.

My wife (God love her) suggested we go out somewhere to celebrate, so we went to Holy Frijoles for margaritas and a meal. She was really good about letting me write through my final push to the end. I’m grateful for that.

I’ve been working on my query letter during those times where I was able to write but needed to let the manuscript settle. Now that I’ve got what I feel I can finally call a completed manuscript, I can’t wait to start querying. I committed myself to wait until Monday before I send out the first query.

Is abstaining from sending query letters on the weekend is a good idea in general? Most agents I look up ask for queries as email only, no snail mail, so I am wondering if weekend queries might either be an intrusion into the scarce personal time of an industry professional or one that will be lumped together with three days’ worth of queries to be reviewed on Monday. Either way, maybe Tuesday is the way to go rather than Monday.

Does anybody have an opinion on that subject?

A Writer Re-Writes.

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”–Mark Twain

Right now, some smart ass is reading the above and saying, “WRONG! It is French mathematician Blaise Pascal who wrote that in 1657! HA-HA-HA! I am smarter than you!”

Of course, Mr./Mrs./Ms. smart ass is looking past the FRENCH mathematician writing something along those lines in FRENCH, so saying the quote is misattributed…

c’est une ânerie.

But certainly it wasn’t an original thought. Other smart asses will say John Locke wrote something like that around 1690 and maybe even shove in your face something about Benjamin Franklin getting on the bandwagon around 1750.

This tends to prove two things every writer knows (or will find out) without having to hear/read assholes arguing about who said what first:

  1. The best writers know how to steal great stuff (ask Shakespeare when you get the chance)
  2. Minimizing word count sucks

The pain and misery of linguistic economy worsens when an author sits down to squirt out a query letter. If I were to believe much of what I have read, I would think the point of the exercise is to come as close as possible to getting across what is written in 70,000 to 120,000 words with a few sentences.

Impossible? Probably. But I don’t think that is the point.

I am coming to understand the query to be a literary come-on designed to get your prospective agent/publisher horny for your manuscript. Teasing is the thing that elicits the hot-and-bothered sensation in the mind of the reader. Unfortunately, I’ve never been much of a tease.

And maybe now I’m the smart-assed asshole saying I know more than you do.

Whatever. You decide.

I’m afraid I will perpetually feel the need for another draft (or draught) until somebody goes all-in on this sumbitch.

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Query, query, quite contrary…

So, I have started the process of sending out query letters to literary agents. This is something like saying “I have started the process of passing a kidney stone without the benefit of modern medicine.” I expect it might take a long time and might not be the most enjoyable thing I could be doing.

Although I have only been doing this for short time, I have learned some things:

1. My first query letter sucked
2. My revised query letter still sucked
3. Most guides to writing query letters suck

Yesterday, I stumbled across a query letter writing blog that I think is fantastic:

Queryshark.blogspot.com

The Query Shark blog is run by a literary agent who also helps aspiring authors by eviscerating their shitty query letters. Authors whose query letters are selected for evisceration then have the opportunity to submit revised query letters to be further eviscerated. Eventually, some get to the point where they are actually pretty good. In reading through the archive, I have learned some of the reasons why my previous queries sucked. Reading the entire archive is mandatory before submitting a letter to be chum for the Query Shark.

I was going to send out at least one query letter every day until I began reading this blog. Instead of sending a query letter today, I revised my query letter about 15 times. I’m not going to send it out again until I have finished reading the entire Query Shark archive and revised my query until it seems to meet the Query Shark standard. After that, I’m probably going to revise it some more.

Thank you, Query Shark. You rawk.