I wrote my first official query letter and sent it off to an editor!
Before you get all excited, let me explain the circumstances.
For those of you who do not know, a query letter is a request sent to an agent or editor, asking them to pleasepleaseplease love your book enough to represent it, or publish it, as the case may be. The query has to include the details of your novel, but written like cover copy. It has to capture the tone of the book, your "voice" so to speak, and it has to be interesting enough that a weary agent or editor will want to read pages of your actual manuscript. Easy peasy, right?
I wanted to vomit. Actually, I think my text to the Captain said, "Fuckity fuck fuck fuck I can't believe I have to write a damn query for this conference!"
In April, I will attend the New England Chapter of the Romance Writers of America conference. I went there last year and stayed with Delia. Even though I was recovering from the mother of all gallbladder attacks, I had an amazing time. I met great people, learned more about my craft, and left feeling like a real writer. This year I'm going back to meet with an editor.
All conferences host agent and editor appointments, but they are usually pitch meetings. NECRWA offers the opportunity to submit ten pages to the editor to critique prior to your appointment. It's a great way to get real feedback from someone in the industry. I was prepared to submit the pages, but I had no idea about the query. Okay, I wasn't even really prepared to submit the pages, because I hadn't read the beginning of the book in a dog's age. A really old, arthritic, toothless dog. So it needed a little work. I locked myself in my winter office (Mom's room) to revise. Two days later, I sent the pages to June (default agent), Janet (default editor), and Delia (default expert).
June and Janet love me, so I always take their opinions with a grain of salt. But they read a ton of genre fiction, so I trust them. Delia likes me, but she's not as emotionally invested, which allows more objectivity. Plus she's industry smart. She takes her craft seriously, and she knows waaaay more than I do about everything. Like how to put comments in the margins. All three were kind enough to read the pages and offer suggestions. I locked myself back in the office. The Captain kept the children alive. I emerged Saturday night with ten decent pages.
I was completely unprepared to write the query. Oh sure, I read blogs entirely dedicated to writing effective queries. But I haven't been paying attention, because it hasn't been a priority. You know my work ethic, people. So my first attempt sucked. Delia was very gentle. She has apparently learned the "criticism sandwich" (compliment/criticize/scrape the remains off the floor, bolster them up, and send them back into the breach), which was just what I needed to feed that clunker to the shredder.
At that point, the query was all I could think about. I stopped showering. I forgot to feed my children and pets. I nearly died while operating heavy machinery. Finally, I was so frustrated, I found my first line.
"Sibby O'Connor is tired."
The rest flowed fairly easily. I sent it off to Janet, who loved it. I sent it to Delia, who told me to condense it. They both told me not to blaspheme. I kept my favorite sentence.
"Especially if it involves a naked lawman and a kitchen chair."
In the end, it was shorter but still profane. After all, it's my voice.