Agent query letter purgatory

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…because “hell” seemed a little strong.

What’s up?

Months ago, I announced that it was time for me to dive into the process of seeking literary representation (an agent) for my WIP, a historical novel manuscript.

I was ready. However, my manuscript wasn’t…quite. (And you only get one chance to make a good impression–or any impression at all–on an agent.) So, revise revise revise, and I have come out the other side knowing that now is–really–the time.

I talked here before about the steps required to prepare for this journey. Step 1 is knowing what to “pack” for the publishing road ahead, with agent query letter as “passport.” Step 2 involves putting myself in an agent’s shoes. What might he/she want of me besides a manuscript? Step 3 will involve compiling a list of agent who might be a good fit (stay tuned…).

Today: I’m in query letter purgatory. It’s not hell, really. We writers write and we write about writing, and so to get to write about our own writing is kinda neat–if tasking, and requiring a good bit of objectivity. Some say the query letter is tougher to write than the novel (a bit of an exaggeration, but still valid): As in, boil down an 85,000-word story into a 150 word synopsis. Oh sure, no problem. It certainly can’t hurt to start with a fantastic first line (or “hook”).

And here’s another couple pieces that I’m using to spit-shine my agent query letter:

Successful Query Letter with Lots of Tips by Erin Beaty on Kathy Temean’s wonderful blog Writing and Illustrating

How to Polish Your Query Letter for a Professional Shine on the Writer’s Relief site

All you writers out there, ever written an agent query letter? How’d it go?

When I’m not working on my query letter, I’m reading novels I could use as comparisons to mine. Right now it’s Lilac Girls about the Ravensbruck women’s concentration camp, which isn’t a close enough fit, but I’m enjoying it.

What are you writing and reading this week? Like this publishing talk? There’s a category for that at the top of my site.

 

 

a bit of writerly advice

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Give a monkey a monkey bar.

David L. Robbins, novelist, educator, playwright, essayist

No, I’m not talking about the zoo–unless that zoo is the wonderful world of novel manuscript revision (did my sarcasm shine through there?).

Rust Belt Girl followers know I’m currently reworking my historical novel, chapter by painstaking chapter. And, as with most things, I’m not doing it alone.

Robbins–quoted above–taught a historical novel-writing course as part of my grad program, way back when, when the first little seed of my novel was planted.

His advice is evergreen. To me, “give a monkey a monkey bar” means to give a character something to showcase what he or she can do. Phone calls and meandering strolls don’t let a character prove their worth–unless he suddenly realizes he’s lost his voice or she breaks a leg.

Today, I’ve dumped a scene where I had two guys sitting in a bar exchanging information in favor of a steep trek into the clouds of the Marin Highlands where a WWII battery fortification is being constructed. We’ll see if the scene goes or stays.

But advice is always welcome.

What’s your best writing advice?