I despise queries. Rather I should say I despise writing them. I’m also not a marketer or sales person. I couldn’t sell you an umbrella in a thunderstorm if I had to (but I’m learning).
See, I was raised to believe that it is egotistical and selfish, even arrogant, to promote myself. “Let yourself shine. Others will see your true beauty and greatness without you telling the world how great you think you are,” my mom would say.
Now, as I’m sitting here with a great story in my hand, I’m banging my head against a brick wall because I don’t know how to convince others it’s a story the world must read. Learning to toot my own horn after years of being told not to is difficult on so many different levels. But, it is something I have to do if I’m to succeed in reaching my goal: to have my book published in the traditional sense of the word. Sorry, Mom, but sitting back and letting the world come to me because of some glorious light I put off doesn’t work in the publishing business. (hmm, sounds like a premise for a book…)
Neither does having a not-so-perfect query letter. I have been lucky, though, that I’ve had excellent feedback lately from those in the publishing business on what I need to do to make it better. I seem to have ‘perfected’ the elevator pitch and the hook, but now my trajectory is not quite there, you know, the part that tells how your book moves and in what direction. I mean, the last person I received feedback from said she knew there was going to be dragons and lots of fighting and running, which is true, but other than that, she’s not quite sure where the book was going. What was the true conflict? What is there to be discovered or learned?
So, now I’m back to square one. Well, square two since my hook is pretty solid.
Which I guess leaves many of you wondering what actually goes in a query letter. Maybe I’m not the one to be answering this but this article can: http://www.pitch-university.com/school-is-in-session/2011/1/6/lesson-4-wheres-the-beef.html
Sounds easy, right? Anyone who has ever tried to write a query letter knows how hard it is, but I found following these steps really helped me find my hook, find my real story in the midst of all the subplots, what and what not to include in my query, and more importantly, how to find my ‘voice’.
Writing a query takes practice for most of us. In fact, I find it harder to write than the novel itself. But with patience and time and some excellent advice from the experts, I’m finding that I’ve made it much harder than it really is. Right now, the light bulb is beginning to turn on and stay on in my head. Once it pops on all the way and I see how it all fits together, I’m sure I’ll sit back and wonder what the confusion was all about.
Of course, writing the ‘perfect’ query will not guarantee my book will get published, but it will bring me one step closer to my goal. Anything that does that is well worth all the aggravation, sleepless nights and pain.
If you’ve written a query that grabbed the attention of an agent or publisher, please share your experience (and maybe your query).