Thursday, April 29, 2010

No Fear: The Agent Search Continues!

Last week I embarked on my 'Great Agent Search' and shared a not-so-stellar moment in my pursuit of new literary representation. In short, I totally wasn't on my game when I had the chance to pitch to a super-dooper agent who shall remain nameless. At the time I wanted to pull my tongue out and hang myself with it. Now that some days have passed since my motor mouth went into overdrive, I've told myself it just wasn't meant to be. There are other fabulous agents out there just waiting to hear from me. In that vein, I sucked it up and decided to get back up on that 'hoss'.

And a more obstinate, stubborn, mule-headed horse you won't find.

The 'horse's' name?

Query, of course.

That's right. I decided to draft (and redraft) the infamous query letter. Since so many agents are going green and encouraging e:queries, I decided I'd better blow the dust off mine and get it ready for prime time. This is about as much fun as pulling the friggin' purple ivy known as Creeping Charlie out of my lawn by hand, clump by clump by clump.

I hate writing queries. And synopses. Since I was still smarting from my first try at casting my line for an agent and hooking myself in the rear in the process, I decided to devote my time to working on the perfect query.

I read over previous ones I'd written which had garnered book contracts. I looked at samples of other authors' queries. Read the query guidelines for the next agent on the list and came up with a succinct, but informative, query letter. It took me all week.

Here are a few things I've learned regarding the drafting of a query letter:

  1. Start with a catchy line if possible. The query for my book, FIANCE AT HER FINGERTIPS, I began with the line, "Who Are You Seeing?" It set a tone consistent with the project right off the bat.
  2. Be able to sum up your book's GMC in one sentence: Example: A ditzy wanabe reporter is out to solve a murder no one believes happened.
  3. Don't use a phrase like, 'In the tradition of' unless you can really back it up.
  4. Clearly convey in your query your knowledge of where your book fits (picture Kathy wincing here) and mention a line or lines you are targeting.
  5. If you have contest wins or finals, pick a few of the most prestigious to mention.
  6. Include why you are uniquely qualified to write what you write. (i.e. 'former state trooper and consumer protection investigator with a degree in criminal justice')
  7. Make every word count.
  8. Have lots and lots of chocolate on hand.
I emailed my revised, rewritten query off last week. So far, no response. Still, the agency's website indicates a response time of two weeks so there's still hope.
In the meantime, I do what every savvy writer hoping for 'the call' (or email) does at times like this. I move on to the next book
If you have any tips for writing a blockbuster query, please share. No telling how many of these puppies I'll have to send out.
Hope you're having a great week!
~Bullet Hole~


TerriOsburn said...

You could send this blog to agents and they'd sign you in a heartbeat. Seriously.

I have read never to start with a rhetorical question. But that's probably agent preference. And I've been checking out the QueryShark blog, which is written by an agent, and it's full of great info. Direct feedback and talk about honest and hard core. Buckle your seat belt when you check it out.

And good luck! I can't imagine who would turn you down.

Suzan Harden said...

Hang in there, Kathy! I'm in the same boat, but at least you've got an oar (aka fiction publishing credit).

Erick said...

I have complete faith in you! It'll be interesting to hear where your journey takes you. And you know I'll be there every step of the way!

Kathy Bacus said...

Thanks for the heads up onthe Queryshark blog, Terri. I've been checking out other agent blogs to see what they like to see (and what they don't care for) in queries. I think the hardest part is getting everything in the letter you need and still keep it under the one page they suggest.

And thanks for the encouragement! It's very much appreciated!


Kathy Bacus said...

Yeah, but it's been five years since I've done the agent search and two years since my last book, Suzan, so I feel like a newbie all over again.

Hopefully we'll both land our perfect-fit agents soon!

And the book deals are bound to follow! ;)


Kathy Bacus said...

Oh, Erick. You make me wanna weep. Thanks for being a constant source of inspiration and support. I couldn't do it without you!