art / novel / writing

How many angels can dance on the edge of a query letter?

Good writing. Who knows the magic to that?

But this I know. You can’t get published keeping your writing at home. An agent isn’t going to shoot out of the sky and land burning bright with enthusiasm for all things me. Submissions must be sent out. And sent out again. And again. Query letters must be sent. And sent. Well, you get the idea.

Writing a query letter is like writing a magic spell. Assuming you believe in magic spells, it can be done. Granted, I’ve never seen a spell work any more than I’ve seen an agent work, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Does it?

Anyway, whatever the alchemy, the bits of blessed paper must be sent forth from your home on their quest to capture an agent. So. Why am I not doing this? I look at literary magazines. I study up on agents. I make lists. I put it all together to stir and boil, and then… I look in my magic mirror! No. I don’t do that. But I do waste my time.

I want to be published. I can take rejection.

I have query block.

You?

8 thoughts on “How many angels can dance on the edge of a query letter?

  1. I had query block once. In retrospect, it was because I didn’t have a qualified manuscript. Now, I don’t have query block, I just don’t have anything to send out.

    Heh.

    I’ll worry about QB when I do. But we’re all behind you, Marta!

  2. I’ve had query block for almost two years. That book I wrote in 2007-08? Not exactly stuck in a drawer — I keep thinking I should take it out, dust it off, and get it back out there again. But in the meantime, when it was done, I queried maybe a dozen agents and got nary a nibble. Hmm (I thought to myself). Perhaps it’s no good?

    Which I know is foolish. As agents themselves constantly remind us, a rejection from Agent A is simply a rejection from Agent A. It says nothing at all about whether a book is “good” (whatever that means anyhow).

    But what’s the point at which another rejection DOES say that about a book? Was Agent M — who never got queried — the one who would have made my fortune? Or, by stopping when I did, did I save myself a lot of trouble and grief and embarrassment?

    Roll all that into my OWN questions about the book — was this a book I’d even WANT people to know me by? with no advance readers at all, not even The Missus, was I really confident in my own estimation of its “goodness”? — and, well, instant blockage. Sometimes, which is to say often, I wonder if my (alleged) determination to finish Seems to Fit before submitting anything else isn’t actually just a convenient procrastination.

    (LOVE the title of this post!)

    • You’ve said exactly what I’ve thought. Sure, maybe the rejections are just a matter of not finding the right agent. But maybe the book really isn’t good. I worry about that uselessly and endlessly.

      But don’t give up, JES. From everything of yours I’ve read, your manuscript has got to have worth in it. A dozen just wasn’t enough.

  3. Query block, LOL! I swear, you poor writers suffer from more blocks than any people I know. 😉

    In some ways, trying to publish must be akin to a mama bird pushing the chick out of the nest, and hoping it will fly. Many do. Some don’t. It is a scary thing. But you can do it! It’s just a letter. Think of it as if you were doing this for your friend’s book, and she asked you to write her query letter and send it out. What would you say about a friend? Or if your son asked for your help in sending out queries for his book.

    This was really cute, btw. Agents flying out of the sky – I love it! 🙂

  4. Yeah, it is amazing us writers can take two steps forward with all these blocks weighing us down.

    Your comment reminds me of what I tell my students. I ask my students what they would say to a friend if that friend was having trouble learning English or passing the TOEFL. They answer that they would say positive, encouraging things. So then I ask them why they can’t say more encouraging things to themselves. For some folks it’s be as nice to yourself as you are nice to others.

    And I’m ever hopeful that an agent will fall out of the sky. Hey, you never know.

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