Query Me Done

The great query letter saga of 2015 continues! Sick of reading about my query letter yet? Me too. Hopefully this will be the last I need to think about it for at least a little while.

Unlike last time, this draft did not spontaneously start to suck, so I went ahead and sent it to Writer’s Digest 2nd Draft service. I kept telling myself I spent about five years on the book, the very least I could do was spend $39.99 (US, damn you people) on the letter with which I would attempt to sell that book. Was it worth it? Why yes, yes it was.

I heard back from my critiquer within a few days, a fantasy author with a long list of publications, who said he would have it back to me in about a week. I think it ended up being about ten days, which I thought was a pretty quick turn around. I got a page of comments in return.

In spite of all my complaining about query letters these last few posts, I should say that I was pretty happy with the one that I finally sent in and guess what? So was my critiquer. Hard work actually paying off?  What the…

This critique for me didn’t so much critique as confirm what I hoped, that my letter didn’t suck. He said it was witty, well-written, confidently persuasive and made him think of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. This is frigging good news because the novel I wrote should make people think of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Phew!

One criticism he did make was that I don’t give any indication of the setting and that’s a true story, I don’t. So there I was, beaming, glowing from this hard-won query battle, only to be slammed by setting. That’s okay, I thought, I can work that in somewhere.

I revise things the only way I know how; by rereading them twenty thousand times until my eyes are dry and bleeding and I find the one word or sentence that bothers me in some fashion, a weak link that hints subtly at the need for a change. I set about this noble mission and failed. I read the query until it blurred on the page, then I read it some more, then I read it out loud. Where, WHERE? Where can I indicate setting, grahhhh!

My best answer after about a week of this was helpfully, nowhere. Fantastic. I called some of my writer friends to help me. No luck there either, they liked my letter the way it was. Thwarted again, I called my mom. We spent about two hours with the letter and ended up with the same conclusion – there was nowhere.

That of course, is not true. There are plenty of places, but to do so seems to mess with the flow of the letter, send a wallop to its mojo. Final solution? Ignore expert advice that I paid for. Precious, isn’t it?

So that’s exactly what I did. I left the letter the way it was and even sent it out to the first three agents on my list. Only time will tell whether that was a good idea or not. Even though I did not take the advice, the critique was still well worth it to me. He got everything out of the letter that I hoped he would, now I just hope that an agent does too.



About eemoxam

I work at the library and write stuff because books are cool. I like dogs.

Posted on February 23, 2015, in Articles, Editing, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Congratulations and best of luck as you press on! I am not at all surprised at the excellent feedback given to you by the query letter editor. Your blog posts are incredibly witty and often make me smile or laugh out loud (that’s a good laugh). I think you made the right choice about setting…you can’t give away everything in the query letter, leave em wanting to read the sample for themselves to find out more! 🙂

  2. That’s what I’m hoping. In the end I didn’t want to risk the rest of the letter just to jam in setting. Thanks for the encouragement, now onto the synopsis!

  3. Congrats on your progress. The end appears to be in sight for you. wonderful and good luck.

  4. Thank you, I hope so!

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