Saturday, February 12, 2011

The conundrum (not to be confused with corundum)

I hate the query letter. I'm always working on the query letter. I don't know if I'll ever get it right. I have an impossible time walking the line of interesting versus "Come on down to Bob's used car lot." Yeah, I sound like a cheap cable commercial. I got one partial request based on a query letter, but subsequent queries with same said query haven't drummed up any love. So I'm thinking that I need to redo the query (and maybe make a sacrifice to the query shark).
My problem is that so many agents have an idea about what a query summary should be, and they're all conflicting. Some agents want every scrap of the 250 words, while others think that more than three sentences is a waste of their time. My only request came from a three sentence query, and that came back so fast it must have been sent priority email (it had an evil typo in it--Khaaaaaaaaan!--so I'm not surprised it got kicked back). But as I'm going through my edit, I know it's time to pull my query back out and start brushing it off. And since all advice from the agents in blog land is riddled with conflicting suggestions, I'm torn. It makes me want to jump off the gimmick bridge and query with a letter that reads something like,
Three tips for being a faerie godmother:
1. Take off your high heels when chasing wizards through the streets.
2. When looking for your wand, try to remember that you already put it away.
3. While fighting the evil wizard in your dragon form, be certain to chew carefully. Evil wizards will give you the worst gas.

Yeah, that's not going to make agents ask for a partial. It'll make them ask for a restraining order.
So, there it is, boring or gimmicky, the conundrum.   *uses forehead to test the tensile strength of desk*
I guess the real answer is something that's humorous (the tone of the book),  yet captures the essence of the book.
Too bad I can't make essence of book by boiling it down in a cauldron...

(oh, and for those of you who don't know Corundum is the mineral name for sapphires and rubies, which can sometimes be found in CAIs, which is what my dissertation is on)


  1. I'm not a query goddess or anything, but I'm comfortable with them. I'd be happy to do a swap-and-critique if you're interested. (If you're not, that's OK, too.)

    Obviously, no one query is going to work for every agent under the sun. If you got a nibble, it's probably not as bad as you think.

  2. I'd love to do a swap-and-critique of query letters. I need some perspective, and I'm having a hard time catching a clue from query shark. Feel free to send yours along to renalford (at) gmail (dot) com
    and I'll reply with mine (sad little woeful thing that it is).


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