Friday, March 03, 2017

Sending Out the Queries


The joke among some of my close friends is:

"Get that book published so you can buy that lake house."

The lake house isn't for me, though. It's for them. They all want to come visit. So, to appease them, this past fall I finally got up the nerve and started sending out query letters to agents. It's that weird first step of "I would like to do this" and turning it into "I am going to do this."

The query is a letter of opportunity, as well as a letter to sell yourself. It's what the agent will read to see if they're interested in representing your novel. The first step is to put all your eggs in one basket -- and not just regular eggs, Easter eggs. These eggs need to be decorated, colorful and vibrant. You must grab the agent's attention with your story, but you've got only one page to do so. There's no skimping. It's all or nothing. If I think I'm a good writer and have a story to tell, it has got to be seen in this letter.

Once you've placed those eggs in the basket, you dye and re-dye them. It has to be perfect -- so much editing for one short piece of writing. Luckily, with my training as a journalist, I'm not too wordy -- cutting out the fat is easy for me. But it's not just about cutting out the fat, it's making sure your knife cuts are perfect.

I was taking the Girls out last night, thinking about my query letter, and decided: maybe some of the most recent rejections have been because of how I've presented the father in the story. Those few short sentences might have turned off any agent's desire to represent this tale I want to tell.

I thought to myself, "I'll need to remember to change some of those sentences around, maybe that will help with my next batch of queries I send out. Maybe someone will bite, then."

Then I panicked: What if I forgot and didn't change those sentences later?

The query letter is accessible from my phone, so I brought the Girls in, stood in the kitchen, and rewrote those sentences right then.

We writers are weird like that -- we carry notepads, notebooks, napkins, you name it, around with us. We don't want to forget any of the ideas that spring into our minds at any given moment. I used to be more traditional with my little notepad that I carried around, but with the ability to sync everything writerly through Google Drive, my phone has become a powerful tool: a weapon of mass creation!

I've learned some good advice from a friend who is already published: Laura Martin. She's got one book out right now "Edge of Extinction: The Ark Plan" and her second book, a continuation of the story, comes out in May of this year. It's been fun watching her journey on social media. She's also been a cheerleader of sorts.

I've got another friend, Sarah Layden, who is also published. Her novel is called "Trip Through Your Wires."

I'm a terrible friend and haven't read either book yet. I also write book reviews for every book I read and post them. They're both friends with me on social media. I post my book reviews on social media.

You see the problem here, right?

I've got these two people I know, and they've been published. If they can do it, so can I. That's been my mantra. I don't know if the three of us will ever hang out like C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, along with the other authors from the literary group Inklings from the University of Oxford, but once I'm published, we could, right?

We've got local universities we can hang out in: IUPUI, Butler, Anderson University, University of Indianapolis, Marian University, Ball State University, among others.

But first, I need to send out more query letters -- especially since I've just edited it.