Query Letters


No, not IT it. But I just found out I’ve been taking the wrong approach to query writing.

A friend and I recently exchanged query letters. Keep in mind that I’ve written my share of queries β€” and have read more than my fair share of advice on how to write a great one.

But the one she read was my first stab at a query for this particular manuscript β€” and apparently it’s no good.

What I have is more one-page synopsis than a query. Hmm … or should I say “harumph”?

My friend’s advice is to follow this formula for the summary graph:

First sentence about the heroine/hero. Second sentence about hero/heroine. Third sentence covers the conflict in their relationship. Fourth sentence either asks a question or teases the reader in some way.

I can buy into that advice β€” except for the very last part. All the things I’ve read say to answer any questions you ask.Β You shouldn’t leave the agent/editor hanging … or so I thought.

What say you, loyal commenters? Ask and answer or just ask?

P.S. On the bright side, I guess I have an even shorter synopsis I can send out. Why couldn’t I have realized that before submitting to the Golden Heart? I could have squeezed another page of excellent writing into my entry. πŸ˜‰

An e-mail arrived in my inbox today with the subject line: “Your Submission: …”

Since I was at work at the time, I had an argument with myself.

“You can’t open that! You’re supposed to be working,” the me with the Midwestern work ethic said. (It’s the same me that never calls in sick because I don’t want to leave my coworkers in the lurch. I have something like 140 sick hours built up because never feel like I can take it.)

“Open it. It won’t take long β€” and it might be good news.”

“No, really. Good news or not, you can wait until you get home,” the angel me insisted.

My impatient side snorted. “Yeah, right.”

No need to guess which side won. I clicked on that e-mail faster than a hungry dog scarfs down its dinner. I’m not even sure I took time to carry on that conversation in my head before I opened it. (I should have!)

Unfortunately, the news was not good. Another rejection β€” the second on the partial MS for “Blind Date Bride” … well, the third. Two agents and one publisher have taken a pass.

I still have hope, though. At least it was an encouraging rejection, complete with a “hang in there and stick with it.”

The agent’s complaint? Worry that the voice isn’t unique enough to stand out in the market.

Now that’s a little worrisome, because I don’t have any other voice to write in. And confusing, because in the Beacon Contest judges’ comments, they loved my voice.

Then again, the judges’ comments are on “Beauty and the Ballplayer,” not “Blind Date Bride.” Maybe BDB still isn’t ready for prime time.

And maybe I just need to continue my agent search. Somewhere, out there, is the agent who will fall as in love with my story as I am. I just need to find her (or him).

Lucky for me, my friends at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood wrote a blog post about just that topic today: the agent hunt.

It’s funny how wildly my mood has swung. I was euphoric about my contest final two weeks ago, especially after reading the judges’ feedback. I had a feeling it was the start of something big. I imagined myself on the verge of signing with an agent, selling a novel or both.

Now, I’m down in the dumps, questioning my story … my voice … even my writing talent. Yes, even a “good” rejection stings. (I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that.) πŸ˜‰

I know rejection is a β€” huge β€” part of writing. We all get them. Even the bestselling authors got them at one time.

Even so, I can say it definitively: I don’t like the downslope of the writer’s roller coaster.

It’s time to make something good happen so I can crest another hill. πŸ˜‰

 

It’s not Monday, but I finally got around to doing what I said I would: I submitted two queries on “Beauty and the Ballplayer.”

Now, I wait … and continue to work on perfecting the GH entries … and write some more on Bethany & Cody’s story.

For some reason, I’m finding it hard to focus just on the Golden Heart entries. Seems that, this year, I don’t have nearly as much work to do. Last year, I had to do some substantial editing and rewriting on Brad & Erin’s tale.

This time around, I have decent synopses written for both my entries, and the entries themselves are in pretty good shape.

Or maybe I’m just getting too cocky … πŸ˜‰

One of the goals I set out at our July NARWA meeting was to send at least two queries on “Beauty and the Ballplayer.”

Well, it’s still not done, even though the meeting is a week away. What’s stopping me?

It’s ridiculous, really. I keep telling myself (rather stupidly) that if I submit a query now, and they like it (really LIKE it), I won’t be eligible for the Golden Heart.

See? I told you it was ridiculous.

Really. What would be better in the long run? Becoming a published author or entering the Golden Heart again (and potentially not winning a darn thing)?

So first thing Monday morning, I’m sending out those two queries β€” one directly to Harlequin, since it’s a category novel, and one to an agent who represents such things. (I just need to check my list to see which ones do.)

Five queries. Two same-day rejections. I appreciate the prompt replies.

I am a little discouraged, but not giving up. I believe in “Blind Date Bride.” And, as “they” say … Rome wasn’t built in a day. I’m going to find an agent who loves “Blind Date Bride” and wants to represent it (and me).

I just hope it doesn’t take forever …

Forgive me for not blogging lately … It’s not that I haven’t been working, let me assure you.

Most of my long weekend was spent on my new WIP, which is now in Chapter 3. Did I mention that there might be something to writing a synopsis first? πŸ˜‰ I thought a lot about my plot before I started and came up with a summary of about three pages.

I also took some time to perfect my query letter and synopsis. This morning, I sent out a handful of queries … including one to my Dream Agent. I just wish that “I want to puke” feeling would go away. I always feel that way when I’m sending out queries: excited, but slightly nauseous.

Anyone else feel the same way?

On another note, I need to get busy writing a synopsis for “Beauty and the Ballplayer.” That was the other goal I said I’d accomplish before the next NARWA meeting β€” and since it talks so long for me to do one of those things after the fact, I’d better get started.

I got another rejection from an agent this morning. I’m beginning to think I need to set Brad & Erin aside and start querying on something else …

I wonder if “Blind Date Bride” ready for the big-time?

I know: If I have to ask, it probably isn’t.

Today, I’m ordering a new part for my laptop off eBay. Hopefully, I’ll have my own back soon.

Now that I’ve submitted a new batch of queries on “Operation Snag Mike Brad,” the goals I set to reach before my next NARWA meeting are complete.

That’s right: I finished the rough draft on Meg & Matt, wrote a synopsis for Kari & Damien and sent not two but FIVE queries on Brad & Erin. (You might remember the goal I set forth was two.)

Talk about being an overachiever β€” we don’t meet until mid-May! But when I’m on a roll, I want to keep up the momentum.

What’s next on my agenda? I’m preparing an entry for a contest with an April 10 deadline. Like the Golden Heart, it judges the first 50 or so pages plus synopsis (55 total) β€” and you get feedback from the judges. I’m going to enter my next GH entry to get tips that I can use to improve it so I have a better chance of finaling next year.

Aside from that, I’m a little torn. Do I go back to editing and expanding Cassie & Dustin’s story (next in line after Brad & Erin in my “Women of Willow’s Grove” series)? Work on finishing a first draft of Drew & Lainy’s story? Try rewrites on Meg & Matt? Do something to Kari & Damien?

I need to figure it out soon, because I have a week of vacation coming up. I want to use my time off work wisely.

… But somewhere between sitting in traffic for an hour and driving up I-17 at 20 mph, I forgot what I wanted to say. Maybe it’ll come back to me for a future post.

I didn’t get a lot of writing done these last couple of days. I did, however, manage to do a little. Better than nothing, I guess.

There was another rejection in my e-mail inbox a couple of days ago. Three down; two more to go. By the time I hear back from them, I’ll probably know the GH results, too. Maybe then I’ll know if Brad and Erin’s story is even worth sending out.

I think I just remembered what I wanted to say. But I’m going to save it for another day. Maybe tomorrow, so I can appease those regular readers of mine. πŸ˜€

First off, I want to thank my regular readers. Apparently there are two of you out there. My blog had two hits for each of the last two days, even though I didn’t post aΒ thing.

Maybe I’m wrong, but it makes me think there are some people out there who actually look forward to what I have to say. I’ll try not to disappoint.

On Monday, I started taking a synopsis-writing class via RWA Online. On Wednesday, I completed my first class assignment: Writing a query letter. I wrote one for “Blind Date Bride” and am reasonably happy with it. I haven’t turned in my homework to get any other comments yet, though. Guess I need to get on the ball, since we just got assignment No. 2.

Of course, the time I spent on my query took time away from the WIP. I’ve only written a couple thousand words on Meg & Matt’s story in the last few days.

I guess it’s still 2,300 words more than I had a couple of days ago. I had some fun today, writing a scene where the ballplayer confronts his woman’s ex (the baby’s daddy). I enjoyed making the ex a real creep. Here’s the part where Matt sees him for the first time.

The guy was wearing an oversized cowboy hat and shiny red shirt. His lip was curled into a sneer. Matt hated him on sight. What the hell could Meg have seen in a guy like this?

His mother’s soft voice popped into his head, admonishing him not to judge the book by its cover.

Matt sighed. His mom was right. This ex of Meg’s could have a scintillating personality. He’d reserve judgment until he’d actually talked to the bozo.

Of course, talking to him doesn’t change Matt’s opinion. But it was a fun scene to write.

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