If I were one of those winsome darlings who could flash a couple of dimples and a face-full of charm, I’d have made it by now. By now I’d have a folder with a signed agent contract tucked neatly inside. I’d have a big fat book contract, thoroughly vetted by my intellectual property attorney, and a fistful of dollars to launch a coast-to-coast media blitz and book signing tour. I’d have people. At the very least, I’d have one people.
But, alas! Here I am — still home in my summer writing costume of last year’s tank top and ratty shorts, still desperately hoping for that one blinding lightening strike to fall onto my lap. Yet still, there’s nothing but cloudless skies, empty folders waiting for contracts, a pathetic wardrobe … and no people.
It could have something to do with my miserable and paltry querying techniques. No. Really. It could be that it doesn’t matter about the stunning lack of dry lightening — or my “people” — or the endless brown heat that squeezes itself around Phoenix for six months of the year.
It could be that I’m just a querying goober who took NO for an answer way too readily.
Last week I had a wonderful conversation with my favorite writing guru, Anne Mini (see www.annemini.com for an extensive treatise on the art of querying), who casually mentioned that one must query if one wants to publish. Astounding! Smack-me-in-the-head with the truth, astounding. Anne’s blog is replete with boundless examples, illustrations, admonitions and encouragement, all perfectly categorized and all free just because she wants writers to succeed in what has become a difficult publishing environment for all but the biggest names. The trick is to read her blog, incorporate her suggestions … and then DO it all gladly.
It’s one thing to write from home in my jammies. It’s quite another to place that business hat atop my pointy little head and actually cooperate with the misery referred to as the “publishing process.” Having a few amazing books hidden in the deep catacombs of a writer’s filing cabinet is an act worthy of only a crazy despot. Real writers write — then they query until there’s no one left to ask — and then they start from the top of the list once more and query again and again and again. In my case, perhaps I’m just hoping for some frazzled agent to say yes just to shut me up. If you happen to be one of those wildly overworked agents, just picture me politely waving “hi” and asking for just a moment of your time.
Of course, what I’m looking for is what every writer wants — a moment of impossible grace. Yes. Certainly, someone to say, YES. Someone to say that what I’ve written is worthy and respectful and filled with truth. How fun it is to imagine giving my own Sally Field acceptance speech of, “You like me. You really LIKE me.” How lovely to think of my manuscript’s timely entrance into the world, wrapped in a flowing gown of words, creating its own lightening sparks to engage, invigorate and sustain its readers.
Perhaps it’s every underpublished writer’s dream to be immersed in that ephemeral and watery substance that could be called “grace.”
I know many who’ll even change from their jammies in order to properly receive even a small dollop of grace during these dry-lightening days.
Amazing that as I make my daily round of web-sites, blogs, etc, I go from Anne’s to yours. For my part, I’ve been lazy this summer when it comes to querying, but I’m getting revved up to make another run at it.
I’ve found myriad excuses myself, Dave. The hard truth is that writing a bang-up query letter is difficult at best and for all the permutations and tweaks I can put into a one-page letter to personalize it for each recipient, it’s still a crap shoot.
Good luck with your querying. I’ll hold good thoughts for us both.
I’ve actually had a fair amount of success with what I already have for a query letter. My goal is to “tweek” it a little and make it zing. Of course I need to get back to actually sending it out!