Friday, July 16, 2010

From this side of the fence

So I was reading BookEnds post on what NOT to put in a query letter. My first thought in reading these was "Well, duh. Obviously you shouldn't do that stuff."

Then my second thought was, "Wait. Wait. I almost did do some of that stuff. What was I thinking?!"

And I remembered then, what it was like to write a query letter cold. I had no--absolutely zero--things going for me in the query department. I had no great recommendations, referrals, conference connections or other "ins" that would make me stand out in the slush pile. I had a ridiculously non-existent bio section of the letter. My only writing credit was...this blog. That's it. No publications, no contest wins.


And even though I wished I had something to fluff out my query, all I had was a pitch paragraph, a paragraph with the nitty-gritty info (word count, genre) and two sentences of bio--one pointing to my blog, and the other thanking the agent for her time.

At the time, I thought it would never work. I was tempted to do all that crap that all those blogs tell us not to do, just so I had something else in my query letter.

But I didn't. I reigned in my frothy-mouth crazy-writer instincts, and wrote the simplest, shortest, clearest letter I could. And I prayed. A lot.

And it worked. (I mean, not at first. I got rejected at first. A lot. But that was because my book sucked, not because of my query letter.) Guys--I realized in reading the BookEnds list that the reason why we writers do all that stupid stuff is because we're looking for something--anything--to give us an edge and help us get these manuscripts we love published. We're not crazy on purpose. Mostly, we're just desperate and frustrated. At least I was.

And it's only now that I'm on the other side of the fence that I realize the best, the very very very best thing we can do is trust the system, write the best pitch we can, and realize that's enough.