Lions and Tigers and Queries, Oh My!

Well, I’ve stepped into the breach. Manuscript finished, edited, polished.

Now the hard part. The dreaded part. The part that sends most new writers back home to momma.

Sending out the query letters.

When I looked up query in the dictionary, I fully expected to see some variation of the definition of masochism. Doesn’t it feel like we’re being punished for something we love?

But no, query has honorable roots, going back to Latin: “Quaerere — to ask.”

Ask.

So my query letter is merely asking a question.

What a loaded question.

“Dear Agent: Will you please take an interest in something I’ve been working on for god-knows how many years, in the hope that someday before I die I will see my words between the covers of a book, with my name on the front, and whatever title some editor dreams up?”

If only I could send out such a letter.

As a friend of mine would say, “This ain’t my first rodeo.”

I’ve sent out queries before, lots of times, with no takers. And looking back, I didn’t deserve any. The letters weren’t very polished, and the manuscripts were mediocre.

Now I suppose I’ll find out if I’ve improved any.

But that raises the big question in publishing these days, doesn’t it? Does my success or failure as a writer depend on the say-so of literary agents? We all know the publishing world’s pecking order and “business model” and sure, agents are important.

But times have changed.

I don’t need to list the reasons why here. The point is, with today’s social media and electronic publishing, an unpublished author has many more options than ever before. Going through the query process is only one devilish route to publishing success.

Perhaps my future self will be an independent author. That does not change the fact that I think writing a good query letter and asking for an agent to become a partner in a published venture is a bad way to go. It’s an important one.

 

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