Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Query Quandry...but at least it's raining

I received my 33rd official rejection yesterday. It put me in a bit of a funk, of course. I know that all it takes is ONE acceptance, and all the rejections are nullified--and that many, many very successful authors have stacks and stacks of rejection letters.

Still, it stings.

I would love to find out what it is about my query and book that are not appealing to agents. I've had nothing but great responses by beta-readers. I've had an aquisitions editor tell me my first chapter was really good, but her (large!) publishing house doesn't put out YA fantasy. But since rejections come as form letters, or "if you have not heard from us in x number of weeks, assume we are not interested," I have no idea what the problem is.

My research has shown that:
  • agents and editors look strictly at your writing, regardless of publishing history and platform
  • agents and editors look at your publishing history and platform, so even great writing gets passed over because the author hasn't invested in marketing themselves ahead of time
  • agents and editors are always on the lookout for new talent
  • agents and editors have fully-stocked schedules and no room for new clients (according to their form rejections, that is)
  • conferences are the only way to get the attention of an agent or editor
  • conferences only marginally increase your chances and are more for honing your skills

Confused as I am?

Add to this the fact that everything hinges on my query letter. A one-page letter that is supposed to sum up my book, me, my publishing history, my marketing plan, my target audience...and in such a way that an agent or editor says, "Wow! I must read this author's manuscript!"

I know I'm not the only one having these issues. I have writer friends who are completely losing it over writing their queries, too. There are gobs of online articles devoted to queries, chapters of writing books, classes at obviously it is an issue.

Where am I going with this? Nowhere, really. Just venting.

So, I'll focus on the positive--it's finally raining!


KM Wilsher said...

Wish it was raining here in the AZ desert.
Soon, Kat, it will be raining many offers.
Keep fighting the good fight!
There is so much He is doing!

Kat Heckenbach said...

It did start to "sprinkle" again. I got two acceptances on small pieces--a personal essay and a reprint on another little story.

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

Like most writers, I agonized over my query letter for weeks before I hit send. But the anxiety doesn't end there because you really never know if it's good or not.

Then the first agent I queried gave me a great gift. She responded "thanks for writing such a strong query." Talk about a taking a huge wieght off my shoulders. I now finally think I have a good grasp of what makes a good query.

By the way, that last sentence wouldn't cut it because I used the word "good" twice.

Kat Heckenbach said...

Well, then, what's the secret?? :)

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

Ha! I wish I knew. I do understand why it's hard for the industry pros to explain it. It's one of those "I know it when I see" it deals. They can tell you what not to do, but not necessarily what to do.

I can say that the biggest problem I've noticed in the queries I have seen is that the writer doesn't get to the point.

Kat Heckenbach said...

Well, I've looked at "sample queries" that were supposed to have been successful. They are all over the board in style and tone. I suppose it depends on what you're writing--whether you should be more formal, more casual (but always professional), what angle you hit from.

Maybe my query is fine and I just haven't hit the right agent. (Unfortunately, hitting the right editor is not an option, since you pretty much have to go through agents to get to them.)

(Just realized I used the word "hit" three times. Promise, I'm not feeling violent. Today :P. Hee, hee.)