My Query Letter Will Be The Death Of Me

CLASSIFIEDS AD: Writer to sell soul for ability to write effective query letter

I wish I was kidding. Truly. But Dear Lord, am I a failure at writing summaries. I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read, webinars I’ve taken, critiques I’ve gotten, seminars I’ve attended in the past couple years, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t for the life of me succinctly and effectively put my characters’ story into a 250-word query letter.

Every time I rewrite the thing, I get two responses: 1) This is great! 2) This is confusing and needs a total rework.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Bree, this industry is subjective. You’re not going to please everyone.”

Right. Subjectivity. This makes up for about 10%. In my mind anyway. Maybe I’m not giving subjectivity enough credit, but when your inbox is filled with rejections (8 as of last week), you kinda have to take a step back and take a good hard look at your novel’s cover letter, especially when those 8 rejections came directly from the query, no partial/full requests.

Like I said above, I’ve rewritten that damned query letter multiple times, vetted it with critique-ers and forums. Every round just gets more confusing and my confidence has pretty much tanked as a result. I know this story isn’t unique. Rejection is a part of life when you decide to pursue this career path, but damn, am I tired.

I love my story. I want an agent/editor who loves it as much as I do. So I’m totally willing to wait for “the one.” But I’m at that point where I feel like my inability to sell my ideas effectively are destroying my chances of finding “the one.”

I’ve heard the argument, “Well why don’t you just self-publish?” And though I completely respect the writers who do take that leap to self-pub, that’s not something I want for my writing-journey. I don’t just want to BE published, I want to BE WORTHY of publishing. I want an agent and editor who is going to push me to be better than I can be on my own, to push me to make my stories greater than I can on my own. I recognize that I have a limited amount of knowledge/ability to objectively judge my own work and crave that expert who’s going to take a red pen and DESTROY my writing [so I can make it better].

And that’s why I will continue to revise that evil query letter and continue submitting. If you’re trudging through the query trenches, I hope that you’ll do the same.

Good luck and best wishes in your writing/publishing journeys, Friends. I’d love to hear your stories down below!

– B

9 thoughts on “My Query Letter Will Be The Death Of Me

  1. I’m almost where you are. About to finalise some edits and then write the query letters. Not sure how that will pan out, it also depends on the target audience and I write LGBTQIA+ books so it may be a different experience. I’ve thought about self publishing and at this stage where I work a full time day job I don’t want to start that adventure. Self publishing means I have to do everything a publisher would do, myself, promotion included. That is a massive time commitment I’m not ready to make.

    We’ll see. Looks like you are way more prepared than I am in terms of writing queries, btw. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • The great thing about the publishing industry is that they’re looking for more representation, including LGBTQIA+. I’m right there with you on the Self-pub. It’s just not something I feel I can take on.

      As for being prepared, each time I think I’m close, the query ends up being ‘not quite right.’ I’m just not finding that balance between worldbuilding, plot, and character. And if I model my query after an epic fantasy, I lose the heart of the story (I feel like anyway). But if I model it after a contemporary, then it feels like the plot gets lost.

      The joys of straddling two genres. ::head:desk::

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hey, don’t do that to yourself. You’ll get it, have faith. Think of it as a product of love. You want to tell people about something you love, so start from there. Also, what about your characters? I know defining genre is important but it’s great characters driving a great story not the genre it was written. Perhaps focusing on the characters will allow you to present the genre straddling, as well as figure out the primary genre (which is important when it comes to selling the book in bookstores).

        But most important: you’ll get it right.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I know you will get there, Breeanna. I wanted to make sure my query letter was good when I wrote it. Then came the long waiting to hear back, but in the end it paid off. As I posted on my own blog last December, I am happy to say I signed a contract with a small press to publish my own novel, and the editor there has a good reputation. Soon it will be you!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Persevere, Bree. I know it’s hard, especially when you’ve got a few rejections from the query letter alone, but you’ll get there. As you said, you want an agent who loves your book as much as you do. It’s a difficult wait but a very worthwhile one. Hang on in there, and keep pushing ❤

    Liked by 2 people

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