I am finally getting to the final final final stages of my query letter. And the best part of having spent so long with the letter (no less than 40 versions over 40 days), and with the book itself (a year and a half), is I am actually feeling fearless about submitting to agents.
A special message of hope to any of you writers struggling in the morass of writing a query – The fear that you are feeling shall pass. I promise. Confidence in submission will come in time. Just keep grinding out new versions of the letter until its wording, etc… fits like a fine skin glove onto the soul of your work. You’ll recognize the perfect-match feeling immediately, I promise. So keep working, sentence for sentence, until you are truly satisfied.
Did you know a GOOD query letter takes around 2 months to write?? I read that info on a great query letter writing website. I personally can attest to this. When I set out, I gave myself a measly 2 weeks to be done. When I started moving into one month territory and my letter was in shambles, I panicked. That panic led to the horrible feeling that I was failing at this writing thing all over again. But I stuck with it…. and now, nearing two months, I am starting to feel like I have this query dragon slayed.
Here’s More amazing news: Your query only needs to be between 250 and 350 words!! Yep. Hard to believe, but that is IT. Anything longer, and you run the risk of losing a prospective agent’s interest. So keep them short, and direct. This can be a struggle as you try to incorporate the unique voice of your novel. But efficiency shows an agent you know your novel well enough to discuss it simply, and that your novel follows the basic plot points needed to sell most books.
That being said, I myself am swimming in the “longer” end of the pool lanes because my book incorporates such a massive twist at the end, it’s almost as if two plots must be covered by the letter. The first plot readers will see is what I’m calling the surface story of the book. The second, hidden plot, you’ll see upon another reading after the reveal is dropped. Hopefully the book is good enough to give it another go!
Think “the usual suspects”, “fight club”, “the sixth sense” in terms of how powerful the twist is that I’ve added to the tome. I hope it works to that effect. Intentions are not always achieved upon first tries. Edits should help, if so.
Ok everyone. Good night. And sleep well.
And keep working and pushing yourself into those darkest, scariest corners of your writing world. You will find that the monster under the bed (and in your head) has to be small to exist in small spaces. It’s no giant. It’s no bigger than you, and actually was never there at all, once you turn the flashlights on, and take a close look.
Hugs, and fearless writing to all,
O and OM.