Friday, September 16, 2011

Writing Sucks

As I read through my query letter sample #76, I'm wondering at what point this is supposed to get easier. I recently finished writing a 79'000 word historical novel. I took me close to a year, so I was happy to finish it. Then I sent it to an editor, who whittled it down to around 75'000 words. This was fine, except I made it much more of a hassle for myself than I needed to, since in the end, despite my concerns, I pretty much applied every single change the editor recommended.

But at least at this point I figured I was done. Only now I had to decide how to approach publishers. I thought I would be very smart, and found a book with examples of 10 successful book proposals. I only realized once I had finished it that every example was for a non-fiction book. So I did some research online and found out that novels don't require book proposals at all.

So then I was back to square one, except I wasn't really there yet: it turns out you're supposed to find an agent before you submit your work to a publisher, so I stopped worrying about publishing houses and started to search for websites that list literary agents.

I also found out that you're supposed to send agents Query letters. These letters are supposed to be short, and are comprised of a hook (short paragraph that attracts the reader's attention), a description of the story, and a brief paragraph with reasons as to why I'm the best author for the job. In other words, I need an elevator pitch that can fit onto a page.

This is what I'm working on now, so I figured that I would jot down my journey so far, before it becomes too ridiculous. There is a website called Query Shark, which lets you submit query letters and have them critiqued by an agent. Before you do so, however, you need to read through all 200+ queries (she's quite strict about it). I am currently doing that, and almost every query convinces me to make some minor changes to my letter. I'm at query #76 so we'll see what I end up with.

Obviously any experience or advice anyone has with this sort of thing will be greatly appreciated.