Thursday, September 16, 2010

Query... or not to query

I queried a major publisher today that is having an open submission period. Querying can be thrilling, it reminds you of the juicy parts of your work and why you like it, but it's also draining. Most queries of even the best writers end up rejected. That's the nature of the beast.

So, there is something troubling about putting those words together, writing those letters and a synopsis. Every once in a while, there's a line that inexplicably feels weak, and you can't label why and you dicker with it. In some cases you "fix" it, in others you merely improve it.

Queries are like waving your arms in a crowd of people yelling "PICK ME!" when everyone else is waving their arms and yelling "PICK ME!"

And I imagine myself, as I peruse the tweets by agents and editors, reading others' queries and snickering or wondering if something could have merit. How can you tell by a letter?

Some interns, agents and editors are picking through the coins looking for treasure, and we all have an idea what we consider treasure.

Everything we all write is treasure. Problem is finding someone who is seeking that treasure.

In the 16th century, salt and gold were treasures. Pepper and rhubarb before that. Everyone-- even today-- will agree that gold is a treasure. But salt? And pepper? Needed to preserve meat for the winter.

Spices, coffee, chocolate, all once luxury goods. As was sugar. Europeans grew accustomed to the new sensation of "sweet" in the 17th century, thus sugar became a treasure.

A diabetic would not agree with that treasure.

Don't lose heart. Even if your manuscript is the "rhubarb" of queries. Which ironically, rhubarb was prized for its laxative qualities. But I'm not saying your manuscript is poop.

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