My wip is far from being ready to query. But in my blog-catching-up-time, I read a lot of query related posts (see this amazing rule-breaking query here). Part of my procrastination regime is to do things that are associated with my wip without actually writing it so I’ve written several queries over the months. None of them were any good and I can see why so many writers talk about how they hate writing query letters. It has that reputation for a reason.
They are hard. You have to condense your voice, your plot, your MC, why it’s different and why anyone should care into 250 lonely words or less. Who wants to do that to their baby?
Needless to say, mine suck. I do like to think they are progressively getting better, though. Maybe by the next fifty or so I’ll have a winner. I sent the latest version that I thought might be, at least, okay into a crit group. I’ve only gotten one crit so far and it confirmed that I still suck at it. I only sent it a couple hours ago so there is still plenty of time for the other critters in the group to tell me how much it sucks. The best part about being told you suck (no, the words are not actually said, no one is ever mean-spirited) is that you learn from it which is far more valuable than being told something crappy is good.
Most will tell you there is an art to query letters that is far different from novel writing and I would venture to say they are right. Before sending out those queries, I would highly recommend you get feedback. Lots and lots of feedback and don’t send out that query until everyone loves it. You only get one shot per agent and you don’t want to send that query to your dream agent before it’s right.
Anyway, the reason why I think I suck at it is that I don’t think I have the confidence to “sell” my book. I was asked what was unique abou it. The honest answer is, I don’t know. I’ve never sat down and thought about what makes it unique, I just write the story that’s in my head and hope it’s good enough. I wonder if it’s something I just don’t want to look at for fear it’s not unique enough. I never set out to write thinking in those terms. I never set out to turn the literary world on its head. I simply set out to write.
I’m told it’s unique but it’s not like anyone ever explains to me what’s unique about it (and I never ask). I can’t put its uniqueness into words unless I examine it, though. That’s the catch twenty-two because if I set to examine it that closely, I’m terrified I’ll discover it’s not that great of a story. I already had to rewrite what I had because the voice was all wrong. What if there’s more to it that’s wrong?
All I can say is that I’m very glad I’m not even at the query stage yet.
I’m my own worst enemy in this matter. I’m aware. Feel free to send your condolences. Flowers and chocolate are also accepted.