I suck at writing query letters.
Wait, let me rephrase that.
I absolutely suck at writing query letters. Well, that’s not true either. Vlad’s query letter for EGB practically wrote itself–what’s more, the idea that sparked in my brain inspired me to write an excellent query letter and that became the jumping point for me to write the book. I guess that just proves that there is no formulaic way to do these things.
For Roses, it was another story–one that echoed my query writing abilities for Black and White (my first book, about a man who struggles with drug addiction and hears opposing voices in his head–kind of an angel/devil on the shoulder deal). Neither came out very well, as I had an incredibly difficult time condensing an 80 or 90,000 word novel into three paragraphs. I asked for advice from writer friends, and they helped, improving my pathetic little query by leaps and bounds, but when I read it, it didn’t sound like me at all. It sounded (big surprise here) like someone else had written it. But after acquiring the assistance of an incredible, brilliant, insightful, can’t-say-enough-good-things-about-him man named Sachin Waikar (of WriteNow Editorial Services), I finally have the perfect query letter for Roses.
But writing it and mailing it (after careful research on places like Preditors & Editors and Publishers Marketplace), you’re still faced with the task of keeping an organized list of victims…er, of agents.
When I queried B&W I sent that sucker to everyone in the publishing industry that claimed to represent authors (Well, almost everyone–I did manage to skip the scammers). It was a mistake not to research them, but I was still a little fledgling writer and didn’t know any better. A big downside was that I didn’t keep a list of who I’d sent a query or pages to, when, how much of the book I’d sent, etc. It was incredibly confusing. With Roses, I’ve been much more organized. I have a detail, organized list of agents I’ve researched thoroughly and believe they would be a good fit for my work. I’ve got their contact info in a Word document, along with when I queried them (and how: e-query or snail), what their response was, how many pages I sent & when, along with the date 10 weeks from the time I sent it out, so I have a reminder of when I should drop them a quick, polite note to see if they’ve read it yet and are interested, etc.
Many authors have different methods of keeping tabs on their queries, but I’d wager that all those methods have one thought in mind: keep a list of victims, even if it’s just scribbled down on the back of an envelope. It’ll save you a lot of heartache and a ton of embarassment (I accidentally queried several agents twice with B&W).
Besides, I’m a Virgo…we love this organizational stuff.