Two years ago I started a book based on an idea I’d been batting around for more than four years. After five drafts, countless revisions, and a great deal of cutting it’s finished.
What’s more difficult than writing a novel of 104,000 words? Writing a 250 word query letter to agents.
The all-important query letter is supposed to entice the agent (or publisher) into asking for a portion of the book, or better yet, the entire manuscript. With 250 words the essence of the book – the tone, the story line, and the main character – is supposed to be presented. More than presented; the query is supposed to snatch the agent by their lapels, jerk them out of their seat, give them a quick bitch-slap and scream, “You gotta get this – NOW!”
The stupid query is proving harder to write than the book! I finally wrote one, but I’m not sure it lives up to expectations. It has garnered one rejection, so far. I mentioned the rejection on Facebook, and kind friends gathered up their torches and pitchforks to rally against the evil agent. I appreciate the support, but rejection is no biggie.
Rejection is part of the writer’s life. It’s actually a good thing: no rejections equal not trying. Consider the following:
Robert Persig’s ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE received 121 rejections before becoming the biggest selling book of the 1970’s.
Alex Haley had more than 200 rejections before he wrote ROOTS.
Joseph Hellar’s classic CATCH-22 was originally titled CATCH-18. Why the title change? Another book titled MILA 18 was due to be released the same time as Hellar’s. Why choose 22? It was the 22nd time he had submitted the book to a publisher.
More recently, Kathryn Stockett’s THE HELP had 26 rejections before it found a home.
It’s good to share something in common with great authors… besides the alphabet.