I was going to write a retrospective of 2010 today, the highs and lows, the accomplishments and setbacks, the losses and the discoveries. It was a year unlike any other, although there were no major tragedies or triumphs. It was a very workmanlike year, each up and down a small cog in the machinery of my days. But put them together and…I don’t know. It was significant. I was going to share all that, as I’ve had no hesitation sharing things on here, but I’ve decided to keep it to myself, just this once. I’m not sure why. Just because, I guess.
It’s been a while – too long – since I wrote a piece about my writing escapades. Christmas is over, 2010 is breathing its last, and the publishing world will once again spring to life, exploring strange new queries, seeking out new authors and new manuscripts, boldly going. . .
Never mind, thinking of something else. My point is, vacation is over; it’s time to get back to work.
And I will have my query ready.
I had a mini-epiphany while twisting, pulling, and spindling(?) my query to mold it into the shape of that most mythical of creatures – the Perfect Query Letter. What’s perfect? To hear some tell, it’s as much detail as possible; others want little more than a logline.
The trick, I think (but it’s not a trick really), to a good query is not in the writing but in the research. Research the agents that fit your work and craft a query to fit each one of them individually. It may take a lot of searching, especially the agents who don’t blog. Find out what type of query a particular agent likes to read and write that query. Then write a different query for the next. I can’t speak to the mindset of an agent, but I know I’d be more inclined to linger over a query written in the style I prefer. If you get a box of candy, you may eat them all, but you’re going after the kinds you like first.
Instead of trying to force your writing to be perfect for everyone, accept the fact that it’s not and narrow the audience down those who will like it (and maybe even request pages as a result), then keeping the core of your pitch, write another in a totally different style if you have to. Maybe this agent focuses on plot, and that one is more interested in finding a fresh voice. And keep doing it. It sounds hard, but really, writing isn’t the hard part, is it? It’s forcing your writing to please everyone that’s hard.
Anyway, that’s my theory. Those of you ahead me, who’ve done the querying already, can tell me I’m nuts, or “duh” as the case may be. I’ll find out soon enough.