Wednesday, January 13, 2010

STEPPING OFF THE LEDGE

I took a big step today: Sent four query letters into the ether in hopes of securing an agent for my paranormal romance. Yikes, my stomach has butterflies and the Baby Ruth bar I ate in an attack of post-query nerves is talking back to me. (Chocolate is our friend, especially in moments of crisis. And, like Forrest Gump, I like nuts.)

Oh, my goodness, this is the part of writing that fractures my nerves! For one thing, I’d rather have a ticked-off porcupine shoved up my posterior portion than write a synopsis, and I don’t think I have the query letter gene anywhere in my DNA. How DOES one encapsulate the book you’ve poured your heart and soul into, reducing it to a smart, snappy, grab ‘em-by-the-seat-of-their-pants missive that describes your precious literary baby with crystalline clarity and wit? Oh, yeah, and you gotta do all this in ONE PAGE and in a way that makes it stand out from the hundreds, if not thousands, of query letters an agent may receive in a month?

Shoot me, please.

This is, by no means, my first sally into Query-dom. I have an unagented (boo-hoo!) completed women's fantasy novel that is near and dear to my heart gathering dust. I think I broke some kind of query record on that baby, with a resounding lack of success. Received a big, fat ‘No thank you, it is not for us. But, please, after you’ve picked up your eviscerated guts from the floor, try another agent’ letter more than . . .

Well, I won't embarrass myself by repeating the number of rejections I received. Trust me when I say it was a lot.

Ouch.

But not all agencies reject you outright. Some maintain a deafening silence. Total absolute quiet, the soundless vacuum of deep space. As in you-suck-so-bad-and-so-hard-you-don’t-even-merit-a-form-rejection-letter silence.

Double ouch.

So while I’m not a complete newbie to the query letter thing, I feel like I’ve stepped off a ledge.

That whistling sound you hear is me plummeting. Will I land safely or go SPLAT? Only time will tell. Lots of time. Six weeks, four months or maybe never, depending on the agent. So, toes and fingers crossed for me, please.

Oh God, I need another Baby Ruth.

17 comments:

JoAnn said...

Fingers crossed for you, Jeanie.

Jeanie said...

Thanks, JoAnn. Scary business, ain't it? Sometimes, I think we must all be a little nuts to put ourselves through this! But I can't imagine not writing.

Nannette Conway said...

I admire your bravery. Four at a time???? Keeping fingers crossed for you.

Jeanie said...

I will take your crossed digits, Nannette,and thanks. Yes, four at a time! Foolishness, perhaps, but I like to query in small batches. How do y'all go about this painful process? One query letter at a time, a skillion or by the handful?

Cari Hislop said...

Many great authors endured numerous rejections before finding an agent or publisher who wasn't drunk, blind or illiterate who finally said..."I like it!" And voila, everyone now reads them and everyone knows how good they are and everyone forgets the authors countless rejections!!!! Charlotte Bronte is one!!!!

I recently read an article about two living published selling mystery authors who couldn't
get certain books published in England because the publishers had decided the books wouldn't sell in England...meantime...the readers were commenting how irritating it was that they had to send off to America for the books. I wouldn't judge your brain child on the reactions of agents or publishers! I wouldn't be surprised if they use a crystal ball or an oija board to choose their books!

If you've had positive honest reader feedback from people you know won't lick your boots just keep searching for that needle in the haystack! I know I repeat myself, but look how many publishers rejected JK Rowling because in their so called wisdom they declared no one wanted to read that sort of story! I rest my case!!!!! :)

Callie James said...

This blog was hysterical, Jeanie. If your book is anything like your blog style, I think you're all set.

Hope you're ready for it!

:)

Jeanie said...

Thanks, Cari. You are right! I will keep on plugging that book that is near and dear to my heart and hope to find the right agent who recognizes my undiscovered brilliance! And I will forge ahead with the querying process on my paranormal. Giving up on my writing would be like giving up on my children.

Thanks, Callie. From your fingertips to God's great in-box in the sky! May He check His e-mail and soon! !

Melissa said...

Double punches and big splats – that’s sums it up for me too Between the synopsis, the query letter, and The Waiting - you do step off a ledge. You send your child into the world alone, unaccompanied and defenseless. That’s scary and exhausting and it doesn’t get much more personal.

I write the synopsis before I write the book. I want to get it over and be done. Maybe if we could view the synopsis differently it would be easier to write. See it as the only real chance we have to communicate to the cold and uncaring world how truly extraordinary our creation is. You know brag with class and authority in a subtle, compelling way.

Jeanie, I submit that anyone who can make me laugh in a one page blog can write a good synopsis.
Congratulations on your bravery and good, good luck. Keep the chocolate and nuts close at hand but keep leaping!

Jeanie said...

Melissa, you have been such a huge help to me, providing support and constructive criticism and a SLOW DOWN, GIRL, when I needed it. This querying thing is scary and very, very personal. But, by helping each other and providing moral support and the occasional kick in the pants when we need it, we CAN do this!

Glad I made you laugh. It's how I cope with the process and something that is VERY important to me . . . as, I know, writing is important to you and everyone else here.

One step at a time, even if that step off the ledge is a doozy!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Jeanie:
I sent off four at a time with my first (and only, so far) batch of queries. You expressed my own angst perfectly in your post, and made me laugh.

Thanks and good luck!

Jeanie said...

Gwen,

It is an angst-ridden affair, no way around it! Congrats on diving in. Let me know how you do. I will be rooting for you.

Christine said...

It's like sending out birth announcements and having no one call to say when can we see your beautiful baby.

Sending positive energy your way!! You did something to get closer to reaching your dream. Woohoo!! Big pat on the back.

Stern Rake Studio said...

Jeanie: I agree with the rest of your supporters, and I especally like what Callie said. If, as the song goes, you "Make 'Em Laugh," you'll definately stand out.

For example:

"As in you-suck-so-bad-and-so-hard-you-don’t-even-merit-a-form-rejection-letter..."

I love this quote! I, on the other hand, use the shorter title for such correspondence: "You Suck Letters." :)

While I have yet to receive a single You Suck Letter in Literature, I got plenty while job hunting after I retired from the military.

I got tired of reading all the polite & flowery phrases on the flimsy, one-page letters.

I find turning this around and using humor helps keep my fragile male ego intact.

Good luck!

Ted

Jeanie said...

Ted,

Thanks for the kind words. Rejection stings, no matter the venue. But humor helps get us through the sticky patches. Best of luck with your own writing.

Cari Hislop said...

To christine:

That is an excellent metaphor; telling people you've had a baby and no one wanting to see it!!!!

To Jeannie:

You always make me laugh too!

Jeanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeanie said...

Thanks, Christine, thanks Cari. Yes, Christine, it is EXACTLY like that! It's like they're saying, "My, what an ugly baby you have." How rude!

The women's fantasy I reference would be some baby, since it took me three years to write the darn thing. Longer gestational period than an elephant!