Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ten Ways to Put off the Dreaded Query Letter

I like to work backwards.  I'm at the beginning of two new manuscripts, and I always write my query letter after I have written the first chapter, and I have an overal plot scheme in my head. I do this so that I won't become so bogged down in the details of the story I cannot write a short, catchy back of the book query.  Since I'm about to embark on writing not one but two queries I have managed to initiiate all my ususal stall tactics.  Don't we all hate writing the query?  Anyway, I remembered writing a list of the ways I stalled in writing my queries, and I dug out that list to see if I really did do those things.  Sure enough I do many of these things time and time again.  Here is my personal list. 

1.Write a Query Letter for someone else - It's easier because you have nothing personal at stake.
2.Cook a gourmet dinner - even though you do not know how to cook.
3.Start on a new novel - since this one is a pain in the butt.
4.Critique someone elses work - who has already been published and does not really need your advice.
5.Spend several hours reading on-line about how to write a query letter - then tell yourself you will start tomorrow.
6.Have a glass of wine - now you are tooooo tired to do it, so you can just go to bed.
7.Read the backs of a bunch of books to get ideas - but hey, now all you want to do is read those books and forget the dreaded query.
8.Go back and revise your manuscript even though it had been revised 10,000 times.
9.Browse the internet for what agents say about query letters that caught their eyes then you realize they all say JUST DO IT.
10.Write a blog about how to put off a query and when you come to the end, force your nimble little fingers to go straight to your own blank query letter!

Gotcha - Go Write That Letter and Get Published! 

Do you recognize any of these stall tactics in yourself?


Jeanie said...

I would rather do almost anything than write a query letter or a synopsis! I cannot imagine writing one at the end of the first chapter! I am a pantser, so I have no idea at the beginning where the story is going. My hat's off to you for being able to do that. (I do usually sit down after five or six chapter and try to sketch out an outline of the rest of the story, though I do not usually follow it.)

As for stall tactics, the wine and revision both work for me! I am a compulsive tweaker anyway, so that's always a way to put off writing.

I am impressed you are trying to write two manuscripts at once. Don't know if I could do that either!

Callie James said...

If I wait until I finish writing the book, I'm so bloody sick of it (after 150 edits) that I HATE writing the synopsis and query.

My way around the this is to do both BEFORE I write the book. I never thought I could do this but it seems to work for me.

Christine said...

For the first time ever, I have a synopsis ready before the book is fully revised. That's because I entered it into the GH (tho' it's in bad shape in places... the book, not the synopsis). Forced myself to do it.

Query isn't ready, but I have a pitch for it and I plan to use it to whip out the query AFTER I finish this revision round from he**.

Oh, speaking of revisions... where is my cookbook? I feel a need to be Julia Child or Martha Stewart.

Louisa Cornell said...

Man, I hope I get to keep this agent because I would rather have a root canal without anesthesia than EVER write another query letter !! And I feel pretty much the same way about synopses !!

Right now I am in revision hell, the 99th level of revision hell, not purgatory, not levels 1 through 7. NOPE !! LEVEL 99 and sinking fast !!!

Gwen Hernandez said...

I'll have to consider writing the query letter before the book is done. I get so bogged down in the details that it's hard for me to boil it down to a few catchy sentences. Especially like Callie said, because by the end, I'm sick of it.

My biggest procrastination tactic is surfing the web for advice. I just need to get offline and do it.