Friday, March 2, 2012

Back to the query letter grind

Friday now. I took a week off from my second book to go back and work on my third book. (See previous posts to understand the logic behind that.) Specifically to wage another campaign to get it published. It's been about 3 months since I sent out the first round of query letters, and it was time to try again.

First I took another pass at my query letter. I'm probably fooling myself, but I think it's a good letter. I didn't change a lot. Of course, in the context of a short letter, a little change can be a lot. I certainly didn't re-envision it. Normally after a few months away from something I see serious flaws and rethink the approach entirely, but I'm not seeing it here. Someone else is going to have to tell me how my letter sucks.

Then I went over the first 50 pages of the typescript again. (Most agents request 50 pp. or less with the query, and I have excerpts sliced several different ways -- 5 chapters, 4 chapters, 5 pages, 1 page, etc.) I did find a lot of opportunities to sharpen it, but, again, not a total re-envisioning of it. This was red-pen work -- slow close reading on paper and then inputting the changes on the computer file. Then recreating all those different excerpts.

Finally today I went to my list of agents to consider querying. It's a slow process of picking an attractive prospect, reconfirming the info I have, reviewing all the info out there on them that made them sound interesting to begin with, trying to spot a way to pitch to them individually. Then when I have one I'm ready to query, I have to build the email with just the right material included, subject line, the magic words, etc. At least these days it's almost 100% email whereas when I was going through this with my first book a couple years ago there was still a lot of photocopying, SASE, lines at the post office, etc. Still, it's all pretty time consuming. I've found that even with all the writing done and a lot of preliminary research it takes an hour to get 2 queries reconfirmed and in shape enough to hit the send button.

Someday when I strike it rich I'll let myself vent. For now, suffice it to say that sometimes I don't feel 100% positive about this process.

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