PDA

View Full Version : What wrong with me?



Wayne K
05-14-2009, 10:46 AM
Besides all that.


Honestly now.
I wrote two books 100,000 words + in a few months.
I have two proposals done and they are killer.

Why the F can't I write a good query letter?

My biggest problem is getting it all into a few paragraphs. Is there something I'm missing or am I just not studying the right approach?

SPMiller
05-14-2009, 10:58 AM
It has taken me something like a year of research and work to create a single halfway passable query letter. Seems to be easy for some folks. For others, not so much.

thethinker42
05-14-2009, 11:07 AM
Query letters are the bane of my existence. I hate them with a fiery passion. Write 50,000 words in a week? Any time. Write a query letter? *whimper*

I feel your pain, bro.

Matera the Mad
05-14-2009, 11:30 AM
The fuggered little buckers are heck. Whatchew expect? :tongue

dgrintalis
05-14-2009, 11:37 AM
I'm with you, Wayne. I think query letters are evil. Evil, I tell you. Have you posted yours in QLH to get some feedback?

Ms Hollands
05-14-2009, 01:28 PM
Just imagine you have to read a hundred of the things a day and think about what would grab YOUR attention.

I found putting mine away for a week or so and looking at it again helped me cut down all the 'me' stuff that was way too long. I'm hoping to get agent feedback tomorrow before I send mine out - a bit of confirmation that' it's okay. Would this confirmation help you too?

Ms.rachel
05-14-2009, 03:22 PM
If you have had anyone read your book ask them to sum up what it is about for you and go from there. the hardest part for me was getting out of all the details, pulling back enough to think of the book as a whole. Or just go to like amazon and read all the summarys (back of books) for inspiration. I'm guessing the most important info for the query is the who, what they want, and what might stand in their way.

CaroGirl
05-14-2009, 04:23 PM
I worked my butt off for months writing my query and synopsis. I sent out my best attempt. I got a great personalized rejection (loved the story but not for us, + suggestions) from a publisher to whom I sent 50 pages that said the quality of my writing and story were not reflected well in the query and synopsis. And, had she not had my 50 pages, she would not have known how good it was.

I'd go back to the drawing board but I really don't know how to write those things any better, dang it!

scarletpeaches
05-14-2009, 04:30 PM
Query letters are the bane of my existence. I hate them with a fiery passion. Write 50,000 words in a week? Any time. Write a query letter? *whimper*

I feel your pain, bro.


If you have had anyone read your book ask them to sum up what it is about for you and go from there. the hardest part for me was getting out of all the details, pulling back enough to think of the book as a whole. Or just go to like amazon and read all the summarys (back of books) for inspiration. I'm guessing the most important info for the query is the who, what they want, and what might stand in their way.

This is why I wrote the synopsis for Lori's Between Brothers. It just didn't sell the book.

And I think it's sometimes easier to get someone else to write it for you, because they don't have the "I'm the author; if I talk up my own book, isn't that boasting?" jitters.

thethinker42
05-14-2009, 04:35 PM
This is why I wrote the synopsis for Lori's Between Brothers. It just didn't sell the book.

And I think it's sometimes easier to get someone else to write it for you, because they don't have the "I'm the author; if I talk up my own book, isn't that boasting?" jitters.

I think you're absolutely right. I have a hard time with synopses and queries because I feel like I'm basically whoring out my own story. I've never been good at sales, etc.

Since SP is my #1 fan of Between Brothers, it only made sense to have her write the synopsis. 2 weeks later? Full manuscript request. So, I think she's onto something.

CaroGirl
05-14-2009, 04:40 PM
This is why I wrote the synopsis for Lori's Between Brothers. It just didn't sell the book.

And I think it's sometimes easier to get someone else to write it for you, because they don't have the "I'm the author; if I talk up my own book, isn't that boasting?" jitters.
Yabbut, you're not really supposed to go all "my book's the best thing since sliced bread" in the query. It's more like hook + plot + character all in 250 wds or less. There's some magic formula to it but I haven't figured it out.

Maybe you're right and the magic formula is getting someone else to write it.

scarletpeaches
05-14-2009, 04:42 PM
I didn't talk it up in the sliced-bread sense, just used more...descriptive phrases.

Lori's version was a bit "This happens then that happens and so on," and mine was more "KAPOW! ZAP! BOING! SPLURT!"

And mine was the version that got it a full request, so ner ner ner ner ner! :tongue

CaroGirl
05-14-2009, 04:54 PM
I didn't talk it up in the sliced-bread sense, just used more...descriptive phrases.

Lori's version was a bit "This happens then that happens and so on," and mine was more "KAPOW! ZAP! BOING! SPLURT!"

And mine was the version that got it a full request, so ner ner ner ner ner! :tongue
Cool. So, my story's in the mail. I'd prefer "ZING and ZIP!" if possible, 250 words exactly and if it could be ready by next Tuesday, that'd be great. Fanks.

thethinker42
05-14-2009, 04:56 PM
Cool. So, my story's in the mail. I'd prefer "ZING and ZIP!" if possible, 250 words exactly and if it could be ready by next Tuesday, that'd be great. Fanks.

You, um, may want to haggle a price with her BEFORE you send her your story...






Just trust me on this one...

Manix
05-14-2009, 05:01 PM
I think this is absolutely true--everything they said, Wayne.

Query letters ARE the bane of existence. I hate to break it to you, man, but you are normal. It's harder to write one of those dang things than to corral a herd of cats into a bath tub.

I thought my brain must've fallen out when I wrote my query--it was two hundred fifty friggen words of crap, crap, and more crap with crap icing on top. Everyone who read it told me so. I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. I changed my name, I moved to another state, I checked into belly-dancing as a profession instead of writing. Don't you remember my first post here at AW?

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=138635
Believe me, I know your pain.

CaroGirl
05-14-2009, 05:17 PM
IQuery letters ARE the bane of existence. I hate to break it to you, man, but you are normal. It's harder to write one of those dang things than to corral a herd of cats into a bath tub.
Actually, it's more like trying to put a live octopus into a string bag. :D

Manix
05-14-2009, 05:26 PM
Oh, and just to give you a modicum of hope, the quality of your memoir writing is quite unrelated to your query quality (or lack thereof). They are two different beasts all together. (And you know I've read both):D

Wayne K
05-14-2009, 05:26 PM
I worked my butt off for months writing my query and synopsis. I sent out my best attempt. I got a great personalized rejection (loved the story but not for us, + suggestions) from a publisher to whom I sent 50 pages that said the quality of my writing and story were not reflected well in the query and synopsis. it!

This is my biggest fear for agents and agencies want just a query letter--I don't think my query skills will give anywhere near what I think I'm capable of if I had a few pages to describe it.


On a side note: I've been writing personal letters to agents the past few days telling them just that.

"...but I think if you were to see my proposal and sample chapters I think you will see that this book...."

Like that.

I don't know if this approach is effective, but it's all I know to do right now. I'm depressed (separate isssue) and I need to keep busy to keep sane--the only thing that I love passionately enough to deflect that depression is my writing.

Thank you all for your responses, I do appreciate them so.

MaLanie1971
05-14-2009, 05:27 PM
I think the "sales" part of this whole journey has been the most surprising. I understand why it has to be done, but it really takes me out of my comfort zone. My husband is a sales exec and when I start the query process again I think I am passing my query over to him!

MaLanie1971
05-14-2009, 05:28 PM
Wayne, I understand that.

scarletpeaches
05-14-2009, 05:32 PM
This is my biggest fear for agents and agencies want just a query letter--I don't think my query skills will give anywhere near what I think I'm capable of if I had a few pages to describe it.


On a side note: I've been writing personal letters to agents the past few days telling them just that.

"...but I think if you were to see my proposal and sample chapters I think you will see that this book...."

Like that.

I don't know if this approach is effective, but it's all I know to do right now. I'm depressed (separate isssue) and I need to keep busy to keep sane--the only thing that I love passionately enough to deflect that depression is my writing.

Thank you all for your responses, I do appreciate them so.

I wish I'd known you years ago when I first realised this myself.

CaroGirl
05-14-2009, 05:36 PM
This is my biggest fear for agents and agencies want just a query letter--I don't think my query skills will give anywhere near what I think I'm capable of if I had a few pages to describe it.
Never send a query without pages, as many of them as you can get away with, unless the agent expressly forbids you to send them. Do any of them not want pages?

My standard query package is: query letter, short synopsis, first 2 chapters (or as much of the novel as I can get away with sending). And then I adapt that to what the agent or publisher says on their website that they want.

Ken
05-14-2009, 05:44 PM
... writing query letters just takes practise. The first one you write will rot, for sure, and be fit for the trash heap, and little else. By the time you get around to your 3rd or 4th ones, though, you'll have something farily decent on hand. So hop to it and get cracking!

Summonere
05-14-2009, 07:31 PM
To quote one of my multi-published, career-novelist, once-upon-a-time instructors:

“Nothing makes a wonderful novel sound more stupid and boring than a query letter.”

Followed by this paraphrase: There is no magic formula. It only has to work.

So, all you have to do is trick someone into believing they must read your story. If the query letter generates a sense of excitement, puts off a Harlan Ellison-like thermonuclear vibe, speaks with an original, vibrant, daring voice, explodes from the page in a great big shazam! of by-god-look-at-that wonder, then you're in. Your job, here, isn't to catalogue events, but to rip out the heart and soul of your story and to leave it still beating and bloody on the page, no matter how many nifty characters and cool events it leaves out or condenses. You can't capture everything. Don't try. It's already in the novel.

Instead, convey the essence of the work and what is important about it in as interesting a way as possible. Sample query letters abound. Read bunches of them.

Here's one for Nicholas Sparks' The Notebook:

http://www.nicholassparks.com/WritersCorner/Query.html

Here's on from a first-timer, Lynn Flewelling, who nabbed a 2-book deal with Bantam (you'll have to scroll down a bit to find it):

http://www.sfwa.org/writing/query.htm

Here's one for another, along with a critique by the agent who picked it up:

http://theswivet.blogspot.com/2008/08/query-dissection-kelly-gays-better-part.html

And so on, and so on.

Good luck.

wannawrite
05-14-2009, 07:41 PM
Don't know what to tell you, Wayne, according to all the rules, my query letters suck, but I've gotten a couple of niggles of response. Requests for partials, that kind of crap. They say not to open with rhetoricals, and I do. I also keep my queries very, very brief. Three paragraphs, no more, no less, no matter how involved the novel is. But, then, your rules may be different, because you write mem...memori...memoirs...

Crap. You know what I mean, right?

Anyway, the best advice I have for you has been repeated here, many times. Keep trying. It sucks. Nothing good about a query. Just don't give up.

Wayne K
05-14-2009, 08:18 PM
If someone were good at this they could make a lot of money writing query letters for dopes like me.

ABekah
05-14-2009, 09:05 PM
Take this for what it's worth, my query letter has gotten a few minor positive responses:

I sat down to a blank page and started writing the first thoughts that came to my head for my query letter. Kind of like brainstorming or freewriting for a book. I left the junk on the page. After a while, it helped me figure out how to word it. I kept my freewriting; the original thoughts are there if I ever decide to tweak it.

The synopsis was more difficult. I read the following comment on one agent's website: Your synopsis will be some of the worst/dryest writing you do. Reading that statement helped me feel more at ease.

Wayne K
05-15-2009, 11:06 PM
This just in: I don't suck at this as much as I thought.

thethinker42 revised it a bit because I'm not that good at it either.. We got a request for a full today.

Why am I telling you?

I'm telling everyone.

Srsly guys, thank you for your help and encouragement.

Nivarion
05-15-2009, 11:41 PM
Whats your story about Wayne?

Parametric
05-15-2009, 11:46 PM
I want editing mojo. You want query mojo. Let's swap. :tongue

Queries don't scare me none. It's hacking up 80k of drivel into a coherent story that's terrifying.

scarletpeaches
05-16-2009, 12:23 AM
This just in: I don't suck at this as much as I thought.

thethinker42 revised it a bit because I'm not that good at it either.. We got a request for a full today.

Why am I telling you?

I'm telling everyone.

Srsly guys, thank you for your help and encouragement.

See? tt42 can do queries and synopses - just not on her own books!

I think us three should daisy-chain each other's work and synopsise (that's a real word) the person to the left.

Manix
05-16-2009, 01:28 AM
C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S ! ! ! ! ! :D:D:D:partyguy::Thumbs::banana::banana::banana::b anana::banana::banana::banana::banana::banana::ban ana::banana::banana::banana::PartySmil:PartySmil:P artySmil:PartySmil

Wayne K
05-16-2009, 01:36 AM
Whats your story about Wayne?

It's about a handsome and interesting screwball who ends up writing a few books--it's my memoir.

Manix
05-16-2009, 01:38 AM
It's about a handsome and interesting screwball who ends up writing a few books--it's my memoir.
LOL--Go ahead, do the happy dance--see? I'm doin' it!!:snoopy:

When you get a request like that, you're entitled to brag just a bit... ;)

Little Earthquake
05-16-2009, 08:04 AM
Maybe the query letters are so difficult b/c you have to distill the essence of your 100K book into less than a page. You know how complex your story is, and you're not sure you can do it justice in a paragraph or two.

Or maybe you're afraid of failure, and you know that once you write the query you'll have to send it out... and then you might hear the dreaded words, "No thanks." Right now you're still safe, with the book living on your computer's hard drive. But when you put it out there, you might be rejected. And no one wants to hear that their baby is ugly, ya know?

Little Earthquake
05-16-2009, 08:05 AM
This just in: I don't suck at this as much as I thought.

thethinker42 revised it a bit because I'm not that good at it either.. We got a request for a full today.

Why am I telling you?

I'm telling everyone.

Srsly guys, thank you for your help and encouragement.

STFU, RLY? That's awesome.

Pls to disregard my previous comment.

Prozyan
05-16-2009, 11:06 AM
Good job Wayne, and its nothing to stress about if you struggle with a query a little, despite your prodigious output.

Why can I sprint 100 meters in 10 seconds, but can't run a marathon? Different skills, different training.

FoolishDoughnut
05-16-2009, 02:06 PM
There should be an allowance for "query shorts" instead of letters...Brevity is the bane of my existence >_<

starrykitten
05-17-2009, 04:34 AM
Congratulations!

backslashbaby
05-17-2009, 04:42 AM
Woo hoo, Wayne! :banana::banana::banana:

I only took a shot at a query for my WIP to see if I could begin to describe the plot. I sucked.

I'd pay for query writing expertise, yeah. If that's Kosher. It's hard to see the forest for the trees if you're close to something, imho.

bettielee
05-17-2009, 07:06 AM
Well, Wayne, what with all the agents begging to see your book, this might be late, but I'll tell you what I'm gonna do when it comes querying time. I'm gonna sacrifice me a virgin. If I can find one. A virgin and a chicken.

And congrats again on the "full" requests...