In the Trenches: Harshing on Hope, the Hamster Wheel

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Well, I can at least report some progress. Areas of the website are being updated to make sure that all images and photography are correctly attributed. yesterday was spent surveying possible agents. I think after four weeks of working on it, I may have a better query letter ready to go out.

There is no question, as corrosive as “Was my query letter the problem?”

After nearly a year of querying my novel, I was at an inflection point where I had to make a radical decision. It was either time to shelve the entire project or to rewrite it, again, or to see if my query letter was the source of continued inaction and non-response.

Well, I’m not ready to give up yet, but neither am I willing to sit down and rewrite the whole damn thing, again. So that left taking a long, hard look at my query letter. I’ll admit I thought my initial query letter was pretty good. but I have discovered in the querying trenches pretty good does not cut it. Your query letter must be, I hate to say it, perfect.

And even if it is perfect, you have to wonder Am I sending this to the right person. Will I make a connection with this agent/editor? And the really insidious thought that keeps you up in the middle of the night. Have I already missed my opportunity?

Yeah, that one will really keep you up in the small hours.

So here I am with a brand new query letter about to embark on another round of querying agents. In my research I have accumulated over 250 various agents in my database. It sounds like a large number to work with. Sounds like. But of those 250 agents you have to take into account, those who have quit, those who have moved agency, those who have died and not taken down their websites. Yes, there are a couple of those out there.

Once you have narrowed the list down to, who is still working in the industry and who is still alive, you then have to consider who is accepting queries at this time and who is not. After that, take a good, hard look at their posted Manuscript Wish List. Or if they are among the surprisingly high number of agents that don’t use Manuscript Wish List, you go to their web page or their Twitter (yeah, I’m never calling it X – and I have some serious moral issues with the site), or their private blog and try to discern from their writings what they are looking for.

That was my chore yesterday trying. to find a group of agents to query. of the initial 16 that I found. One has changed agency, two are dead, and four are closed. That left me a total of nine, which I then went and performed further research on, winnowing the field to a total of six.

So that is today’s task to assemble, personalize, and mail out six queries.

And when that is complete the cycle starts all over again. Welcome to the trenches. Here’s your shovel.

Photo credit:

     Pexels/Suzy Hazelwood

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