Adventures in Query Letter Writing


 Me—8 months ago:


I sat all day, trying to come up with what some agents call a tag line, others a hook, others a log line for my new novel, Diary of a Naive. Looking up once in a while to check the horizon, I saw that the stoic mountains had wrapped themselves into a mist. They looked haughty. My mind was wrapped in a similar fog, and it wouldn’t let me break through to a single, intelligent sentence to send to an agent who wants a log line of one or two lines. One of the agents I researched said that she can’t, for the world of her, understand why folks who want to submit a manuscript have such a hard time writing a query letter. Her stance is that, if you wrote the book, you know what it’s about.

 Of course, I do. It’s about a woman who caved in to what she thought was her ultimate calling: to get married and to have children. Now she desperately searches for some kind of meaning and purpose in her life after wasting far too many years of it in a lifeless, lackluster marriage that sapped her energies, her spirit, her vitality, and her creativity.

So that’s four lines. Was this difficult to write? No. But turning it into a one-line intelligent sentence that would make an agent’s mouth water and pounce on my manuscript like a lion on its prey is an entirely different story.

 So I shuffled words around and threw some of them out, and added some, and changed some. All to no avail. And all the while I thought: I love this book. It’s the first book I’ve ever read, even if I wrote it that tells me of a woman who turns her life around by applying the seat of her trousers to the seat of her chair, as Twain so fittingly said, and takes up pen and paper and investigates every facet of her life, from why she can’t say No, to when and why, the moment she married, she was appointed chief cook and bottle washer.

 The more she searches, the more she finds and triumphs over. Emotional abuse, whether in childhood or in a marriage has no bruises, but its power to wear down one’s spirit is rampant, pervasive, and, yes, invisible. Getting out from under it is a heroic task. And that’s an understatement. But it is do-able, and self-knowledge is ultimately, and blissfully, healing.

Well, I best get on with trying to get all this into one or two lines.

 Fast forward to four months ago

 and twenty-four rejections later, when I gave up on agents. Not for the rejections. That’s par for the course when you write a novel that has neither bloodthirsty vampires nor violent sex nor rampant brutality in it. It’s a well known fact that some writers have collected more than one hundred rejections, and that there are hundreds, if not thousands excellent writers who never get published. I gave up on agents, because I read an interview with a well-known agent who said: Oh, I never read my e-mails. I don’t have the time. Sometimes, when I have the time, or things are really slow, I sort of glance through them.

 All the while, her website encourages writers to send submissions via e-mail. I’m not saying that all agents are that indifferent, but I saw myself these last few months, waiting ever so patiently and hopefully for a response that never came, or if one came, it was but another generic rejection. So, I called Amazon’s Create Space, and the final proof copy of my book is now in production, and, if all goes well, Diary of a Naïve will be on Amazon sometime in November.

 Did I say that I love this book?

 Fast forward to January

 The book was, in fact, published in November, and it is a joy. As soon as I have figured out how WordPress works, I’ll publish a couple of chapters in this blog.

I did it, and here are the Chapters of Diary of a Naive . . . click . . . .

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