So I self-publish. And I have since the economy tanked and every agent letter I received back said ‘due to the economy … but this quite good’. So I just did it myself and make every mistake along the way but mistakes just make you better. And I am trying now to pick up my marketing skills because I always slacked on that. Mostly because I worried no one would want to read what I wrote.
Anyway, I have a series that is two books in at the moment. It will be a trilogy for sure, maybe more. And I thought let’s give that traditional publishing thing a go again. I thought, hey, you get a cover designer and an editor and they market somewhat for you. Why not?
And now I know the stats on queries agents Receive vs how many people they pick up. And that is just the first step; getting the agents attention. Then they still have to want to work with you, like your manuscript, and is what they are looking to represent at that time. Maybe they want Epic fantasy and not Urban fantasy… so you have a lot of hurdles there.
The query though. That query. That god-be-damned query. I don’t know how to write one. I am winging it. And does that ruin my chances to capture the interest of an agent? Very likely.
It is like writing a resume when you think you suck at everything and in your cover letter you say ‘I know I suck but I am actually a good worker, I just can’t sell myself’. And you know you are a dork but it is hard to say what you are good at. Actually, this sounds a lot like a nightmare I had.
Anyway, the query is the same. You have to sell that novel. And I struggle with it. Ironically, I was good at selling stuff at work. But for an introvert, that was a difficult skill to pick up and you literally hate every moment of it. Like you are pressuring someone into something they may not want or need. Always felt that way. So unless I am selling a diversified portfolio of mutual funds… I suck at selling things. Especially myself and something I made by literally bleeding onto the paper. Okay, literally was used wrong there. Except that time I got a wicked papercut… and that is a risk we have to take with writing. Papercuts.
Back to the point. How the effing eff do we grab the attention of an agent so they are like ‘Damn, I need to read me some of that.’
- And the answer is sliding a little money in the envelope and put a winky emoji at the end of your letter. Kidding. Do Not do That. Also, we are writers, who the hell has money? So bribery not going to happen.
- Maybe use glitter in the envelope to make it POP. Okay, they would then loathe you forever as the glitter remains in their office for a decade.
- A query in the form of a pop-up book? They open it and Bam picture pops out.
- Hypnosis. But this requires long-distance hypnosis with the infinite power of the human mind. You Will read my query. You Will love it. You Will ask for my manuscript. And you Will love it so much you Must get it published. I have to say my long-distance hypnosis skills are lacking. Gives me a migraine when I try it.
- Tell them right of the get-go this novel is the best thing out there since Harry Potter. Okay, this one really, really do not do. It will make you sound like a douche.
- Beg. A lot. A lot of straight-up begging.
So none of those work. What do we really have to do?
- I have no clue, so this is a short list here. Maybe I should just ramble about something else so it seems like I have a point here. How about some motivational crap? Try, try, and try again. You will be rejected. You will cry into your pudding. But keep trying. You may become an ardent alcoholic. Keep trying. And then maybe, just maybe, you will succeed but by then you have written 20 other novels.
Sound advice there, if I say so myself.
So go forth and query. A lot. Like every agent. Well, not every agent because some of them are not into what you are selling. I mean I wouldn’t query someone who represents Children’s book with your erotica book. That isn’t right.
Some other nonsensical posts
How to know you’re a writer
Are you sure you’re not a fictional character?
How to sell a book
2 thoughts on “Adventures in traditional publishing: Query”
I agree with everything you said. Man, it’s hard, and man, it doesn’t seem like there’s any chance to “make it” as a writer. But you know what? I don’t think getting traditionally published or making the New York Times’ bestseller list is what makes one a “writer” or an “author.” You’ve written not just one novel, but tons of them. You’re a writer. A damn good one. So many artists were only appreciated generations past their prime, or even decades after they passed away. I think that’s just a sad reality with art–the right person has to see it, fall in love with it, and disseminate it.
I write because it gives me satisfaction to do so. OK, because the characters can’t live in my head forever, they have to make their way onto the paper so they will leave me alone and let me sleep. They need to exist in a reality independent from my own imagination. And that’s really what you’re doing when you’re writing–you’re creating, you’re giving life to something, bringing it out of your imagination and into the real world. And that’s magic, and I don’t care what anybody says or whether it makes $1 or $1 billion. (Obviously I’d prefer the latter). Still an author.
That said, bills unfortunately have to be paid (wish they’d pay themselves), so it’s stressful trying to turn writing into a career. I’ve kept my writing at the “hobby” level, and sought “easier” ways to earn a living. Chronic illness obviously makes that a whole lot harder. But if I only wrote what I thought an agent would want to read/pitch to publishing houses, I don’t think I’d be very happy with what I wrote, because it wouldn’t flow organically from my imagination–it would be contrived and designed to make money. Sorry I don’t have any helpful advice or words of wisdom. I hope your adventure with traditional publishing goes well. But I’m still a big fan of your work regardless of who publishes it!
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Yes I wish I could make a modest living at it due to the whole chronic illness deal. But I have no problem with self-publishing either. Because, yeah, I write to write. And I truly love it. That means a lot in the end.