Friday, February 5, 2010

THE SOUND AND THE QUERY

Writing an effective query letter is a daunting process.
The query has to catch an agent’s attention, make them go gaga over it enough so that when they pitch it to a publisher they'll go gaga over it too.
I’ve read that agents can get up to 100 queries a week. Or is it a day?  Either way, the competition is fierce.
It’s taken me a while to come up with my current query letter.
And I’ve saved each version along the way. Almost a ream of paper.
(And to my dear friend who read or listened to me read each version, thank you.)
(And just so you don't think I'm a blathering idiot, many copies just had typos.)
Recently, I’ve been reading blogs on writing query letters.
Elana Johnson has detailed tips on writing query letters in her blog newsletter.
She also has a great little inexpensive ebook available on writing query letters.
I bought it, and because of that book, I believe I’ve got a great query letter now.
And just the other day, Rachelle Gardner had the "Top Ten List of Query Mistakes" on her blog.
To amuse myself . . .
I went back and read one of my earlier query letter versions that I actually I sent out.
DEAR GOD!
No wonder I got rejected!
Embarrassing!
And if seeing these versions again wasn’t humiliating enough . . .
I could hear how the agents probably reacted . . .
Because I reacted the same way.
After reading about ten versions . . .
I realized I was "Voweling."
(The sound made when yowling loudly while saying vowels)
It goes something like this . . .
An agent reads one of my query versions and goes, “Ack!”
Another agent, “Eh!”
Another agent, “Ich!”
Then another, “Ahch!”
And yet another, “Ugh!”
See what I mean? 
That’s Voweling the short way.
Unfortunately, there’s Voweling the long way too.
One agent reads my query versions and goes, “Ay?”
Another agent, “Eeeek!”
Another agent, “Aye, aye, aye!”
Then another, “OH, no.”
And yet another, “Eeuww!”
So there you have it . . .
The, A, E, I, O, U of Voweling.
What’s that?
You’re wondering about the “Y’?”
Point well taken.
That’s Voweling the someday way.
That's when one agent reads my current query and goes, “YES!”
Another agent goes, “YEAH!”
Another agent goes, YUP!
Well, you get the idea.
After reading a few more old query letter versions, it occurred to me  . .
I have all them in a file in my computer and don’t need all these noisy reminders cluttering up my office (or brain) anymore.
So I’m going to use the shredder my friend gave me this past Christmas.
Yes, that same friend who read all  my query letter versions.
At the time, I thought it was an odd gift.
But thinking about it now . . .
Hmm?
After friend patiently reads and talks about hundreds of 
versions of queries letters with writer . . .
Friend gives writer a shredder for Christmas.
Coincidence?
I think not.
Thank you again, dear wise friend.


Always, Em-Musing

 



3 comments:

Joanne said...

I think all of our shredders have seen their fair share of queries! It's just part of the process ... Best wishes on many requests for fulls!

Em-Musing said...

Thank you fellow shredder.

Anonymous said...

Querying is like any form of writing. It can take many drafts to get to "perfection." Congratulations on honing your query craft. And thanks for the suggestions on who has provided useful querying tips from a pro's perspective. Patrice