Monday, March 21, 2016

McCoy Eat Your Heart Out: "I'm a Writer, not a Salesman!"

Revisions for Lightwitch are complete! The word count has gone from 65k to 74k words, and I've got three people reading the manuscript.

Meanwhile, I've embarked on that part of the writing journey I absolutely despise

Query Letters!

For those in the unknown, a query letter is something you send to agents/editors to convince them they want to look at your work. It is sales pitch, the most difficult kind of fiction ever devised. Like anything else, you'll find dozens of websites where people proudly trumpet to know the "rules" of writing a query letter...and it doesn't help that I've read lots of successful queries on said websites that tend to break these rules. This often depends on the agency you're submitting to, and they'll have specific guidelines on how to format the letter and what to include.

But even with such helpful preferences listed, writing a query letter is probably the single most difficult thing I've ever done in my short career.

Here's why:

Most literary agents get about 10,000 letters a year and might take on two new clients. That means the letter has to be quick, clean, interesting, catch-your-eye-like-a-YouTube-thumbnail-interesting, like holy-cow-Spiderman-is-gonna-be-in-the-new-Civil War-movie kind of interesting. 

It's a written elevator pitch. You've got maybe ten to fifteen seconds to summarize the real meat of the story and make them want to read it. Most novels range between 70-90k words. Some are shorter, some are way longer. 

And you've got to sell that book with about 200 words of text. Exciting text.

Can it be done? Yes...and it's a grueling process.

With a novel, you have hundreds of pages to elaborate, show character development, and paint sweeping descriptions for your reader. Not so in a query letter.

Difficult, painful, but ultimately necessary.

But why do I hate them, despite the difficulty in everything else I do?

Simple: if I can't sell my work, it makes me doubt the work itself. 

So, while I'm having fun with that, Courtney and I are anxiously waiting for next week when we'll get to hit the road and celebrate our first anniversary! I'm going to head to Vern's and drop off some machines that need repairs, then we're going to historic St. Charles.

Until next time, enjoy spring...whenever it gets here.

Power to the pen.

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