Wednesday, February 18, 2009

to remain positive

To date, I have sent queries (all via a newfangled technology called "email" that I think will eventually catch on with the general public) to six literary agents. Thus far I have received two rejections, both in response to the first version of my query letter, which was admittedly a pretty awful piece of work. My new version, I like to think, is better. I've been looking for agents who'll allow writers to include the first chapter or so of the book with the query, targeting them in the hopes that the quality of the novel writing will outweigh the quality of the query letter. Yes, I know: that's the wrong attitude and I should really do more work on my pitch.

The problem with query letters and book pitches is that, while I quite like the novel I've written and I have great faith in it, I'm not comfortable boiling it down to six or seven sentences. Which is to say, I don't like that I need to focus on a single aspect of the book because such a narrow view will naturally exclude some of the aspects that I think make the book worth reading. Good art, I tell myself egotistically, is difficult to narrow down. Still, I keep playing this game where I try to see the story from different angles and try to imagine from which angle the thing will look most attractive to an overworked, distracted intern who's got 30 seconds to read each of 350 email queries in a day. It is difficult to remain positive at this stage.


  1. I wish I had some inspiring story to tell, but I'm the land of rejected queries with you.

  2. I admit, I think it is harder to summerize a literary novel than a plot-driven genre novel. But you don't have to capture everything about your novel in the query, you only have show what it tastes like.