Monday, March 19, 2012
Rejection + Hunch = Change (for the better?)
Status: Last week was a tad rejection heavy. I was 100% sure I'd receive one of them (seriously...I even Tweeted about it), but the others were still bright, shiny possibilities in my mind. Ouch town, population me. Also, I've decided not to add a line for "Number of mass rejections on Twitter," and just throw any of those in with the form rejections. But one of my new form rejections was via Tweet, whereby anyone who queried this agent prior to a certain date/time who has not heard anything was rejected. And I'd literally followed this particular agent about 10 minutes prior. Talk about timing.
Number of queries sent: 23
Number of form rejections: 13
Number of requests for additional materials: I don't want to talk about it...
So I have made some changes to my query letter! Yay! But this decision was not made lightly, especially given how much blood, sweat, and tears I put into my old one. (Okay, I don't think I literally put any of those things into my query letter. The most likely of the three would be tears, but I can't recall crying during the query writing process. Not even once. I just remember lots and lots of frustration.)
Why did I do this? Because of all the form rejections. I think it means something is wrong. Or missing. Or...I don't know. Whatever is going on, it's not working. And that's the only part that really matters.
So what did I change? I messed around a little with the sentence structure. I don't think it was really working the way it was. In one part in particular, I think I was just trying to hard. It definitely flows better now, in my opinion. Closely related to sentence structure is sentence length. I had two rather lengthy sentences in my old query. Not Faulkner lengthy, but lengthy nonetheless. I pared them down. I tried to make sure they were easier to follow. I like the result.
And lastly, I added what I believe to be a very important detail. It's something that I think is very central to the story, and makes my book sound more interesting. I had it in my first 10 or so drafts of my query, but my beloved husband convinced me that it's unnecessary detail and that I should take it out. But the whole time, I've really wanted to put it back in. So I did.
I read a Tweet at some point in the last few days. Don't remember whose it was, and don't remember exactly what it said. But it was something along the lines of, "Don't send a query that makes your book sound like a generic example of your genre." And while I don't think that's the case with my old query, and especially not by the end of the query, I think I may have been skirting the line somewhere in the middle. And as anyone who knows me well will tell you, I hate skirts. So that must mean I hate skirting lines, too, right? (Yeah, I know. Now I'm just being ridiculous. That's what happens when I write blog posts on my lunch break.)
So anyway. Back on track. I was skirting the dreaded generic line. Especially in the case of my love interest, who was just a faceless entity with no details whatsoever. And he's one of the most important people in the entire novel. So I said screw that. Screw the advice of beloved husband (sorry, love). And I added a single sentence that I think just adds so very much to my query. It was on the short side, anyway, so I definitely had the room. I'll send a few queries out this week to test the waters. Wish me luck!