June 28, 2011

Pitch Perfect Pain: The Battle of the Query Letter

I write for a living. I possess a graduate degree in professional communication. If you need a training manual, marketing copy, business letter, or resume written, I'm your woman.

BUT...there's one aspect of writing that jerks me to a halt. Like a towering concrete wall, I struggle to surmount the task of writing that perfect query letter to an agent.

Now for some of my readers, the term query means setting criteria to retrieve a subset of data from a database. Those are easy, let me tell you.

The queries I refer to are letters written to agents persuading them to say, "Yes! Send me your wonderful novel. I'm dying to read it."

I got most of my job interviews by artfully spinning words in a cover letter, so you would think the query letter would be no problem. Alas, I wish it were so. Writers spend their precious free moments toiling at the keyboard, creating worlds of wonder and imagination. The minimum length of a novel is 75,000 words. My fantasy novel is around 104,000 words, but in the query letter, I have to give a persuasive taste of that world in one short 100-200 word paragraph. One short, punchy paragraph that seizes the agent with excitement and interest.

Argh! It plagues me. It frustrates me. If only they could see my pages...If only they would let me send the actual manuscript. Gone are those days when writers printed pages, boxed it up, and mailed it to a potential agent. We get one short email to grab the agent's attention and make them say yes.

And still I try...

One day, I WILL succeed.  Meanwhile, I know other writers suffer and fight the same battle.

Query on, dear friends, query on!

6 comments:

Susan M. Boyer said...

You have my sympathy. :) I recommend wine and chocolate, in liberal doses.

Barbara V. Evers said...

Susan, a perfect antidote, for sure.

Wayne G. said...

Oh yes, I remember! I'm buying into Susan M. Boyer's plan. Uh, milk chocolate or dark?

Barbara V. Evers said...

Well, I prefer dark chocolate, but you can have whatever you like!

Jennifer Johnson said...

When you master the query...let me know! Praying for God to be all over it...and for His plan for your novel to be revealed. I'm sooo impressed you came up with over a hundred thousand words. What an accomplishment. I know that's hard to sit on. Wish I could read it! Maybe someday I'll see it on a shelf! Miss the writing friends I met in SC

Barbara V. Evers said...

Thanks Jennifer for the positive outlook AND the prayers. I'm excited about your new book, Egret Gospel, too. It looks great!