Thursday, October 20, 2011, was the most terrifying day of my life. It was also, coincidentally, the day that I began this blog, so in the emotional rush of a(nother) blog being in my possession, I didn’t have time to adequately address the horrors that occurred that evening.
You see, on Thursday, October 20, 2011, I queried my first agent.
If you aren’t in the process of trying to make it as a writer, allow me to explain to you what goes into the writing of a query letter: your soul. I’m not talking about this, “You put your heart and soul into your work!” bullshit. I’m talking about your soul, as in participating in something so emotionally draining that you feel like you’ll never be able to lift yourself from your office chair and perform basic life functions, like showering, or making eggs, or speaking. As in, by the end of things, I would have gladly signed the rights to my soul over to anyone who promised to write a convincing, effective query letter for me.
For me, writing is the fun part. Writing is exciting, and I love the act of sitting in a coffeeshop with a cute outfit on (yes, I’m very Carrie Bradshaw about this, you must feel good about yourself to have a good writing session), listening to a mix tape that I made for my characters, typing away on my nerdy gaming laptop (even though I may be typing blog entries or reviews on Yelp), feeling like a writer. I like sitting over a few printed pages with my Editor Pen out and poised over the paper, like I’m really working hard at making each and every sentence absolutely the best.
But talking about my book? Oh dear lord.
It’s kind of like when you try to talk to the boy you’ve had a crush on for ages and are finally forced into the same room with, and all you come up with is, “Hi, I like trains and the way that nature smells.”
So, believe it or not, it has taken me longer to write, and more importantly, feel reasonably comfortable with, a query letter, than it took to write the first draft of the book.
It had a lot to do with brevity. All the advice out there says to keep it simple, keep it short. But there has to be a balance: you have to get the agent hooked on your characters and plot without getting wordy. And let’s face it, that’s really tough.
And then there’s the other balance issue of how to make your book sound interesting, make yourself sound like a good writer, and manage to not sound like a stuck-up douchebag. Boy is that harder than anyone tells you it will be.
You have no idea who I am, but I’ve written a really awesome story with compelling characters and a fascinating plot, and it’s the next best thing, but I promise you I’m not just saying that. I have no credentials, but I’d sure like for you to help me get some!”
All My Love,
PS – Feel free to take my soul, as I’d really like a break from being in the same room as it after writing you this letter.”
Finally, I had to figure out a way to explain my genre without sounding goofy. I like to use the term ‘teenage paranormal love story,’ as the phrase ‘paranormal romance’ seems to suggest a bodice-ripper and draw up images of Fabio, clad in little else but his BPRD gear.
Oh, and then there was that terrifying ten minutes when I sat with the completed query e-mail in front of me, my mouse cursor hovering over the send button, as my heart threatened to explode in my chest. (Eventually, my husband came in and stood next to me, staring and reminding me that I’d promised to send the letter, for ages and ages and ages until I finally caved and clicked.)
So now, the waiting game begins. The waiting game, in addition to the ‘searching for a billion more potential agents’ game. One of those other classic pieces of advice is to send as many queries as you possibly can, so that maybe, somewhere in that massive list, someone will love you.
And as writers, isn’t that all we really want, someone to love us?
Cross your fingers that someone loves me.