Friday, June 19, 2009

Large Wooden Badger

So I’ve already sent six query letters. I’ve received 4 rejections (still waiting on numbers three and six) and I’ve realized I forgot to load it with Bedevere, Gallahad, and I. In other words… my failure to plot my novel among the OTHER novels that are selling out there may have left them thinking “too long for something I have no clue how to place”. It is long. 200,000 words. It runs 800 pages when I use 12 point, double space Times. I mean, I know there are tricks to make it a shorter novel (small font and thin paper seem to be most common) but it is a big book. Add to that the broad label of ‘commercial fiction’ and it really is no wonder they aren’t banging down my door. Enter badger. (Two badgers thus far, though actually, one of them prefers to think of herself as an eagle.) I was browsing agents a few days ago and ran across a guy who was no longer taking new clients, but he had a page on his site with advice for authors. Lo and behold. He has written a book on writing queries that can be downloaded from Amazon FOR FREE. He said in ten years he saw 100,000 query letters and the book is his advice--three paragraphs only… though as far as I have gotten on what those three paragraphs need is ‘know the literature in your target market‘. Not only do you want to place the book. You want to choose agents who represent authors who have succeeded with books similar to yours because they already know how to do it. His name is Noah Lukeman and the Book is How to Write a Great Query Letter. Seriously… free. Though I haven't gotten far, so the review is only preliminary, free is a very good price. The downside, is once the badger suggestion was out there, I knew I was screwed. Not literally of course, that I wouldn’t probably have minded as much. I have NEVER read a book like mine. Not a one. It is a family drama, sort of, but the family is interacting with spooky, weird community juju, so there is a mystery underlying the thing. There is weird cult stuff in the background, and some suspense. There is emotional tension over the different characters' views of one particular conflict (a five year old child has befriended a homeless man (I called him Tim, sometimes you have to be subtle in your Python references)--this was my original seed, by the way--credit goes to the Eberwhite Woods and my then five year old daughter--sheesh, has it been 9 years... but then I wasn't writing then, just dreaming I might someday write). So to get unscrewed, I went to my trusty friend, a dedicated bibliophile who has a side job at a book store to support her habit and is USED TO “I loved this, what would you recommend?” I should mention Leanne is part of my writer’s group and is fabulously playing punctuation and grammar police for me, so she has READ my book. Twice. Along with about five books a week BESIDES that since she was three… She is MORE than qualified. Thus far she has given me six names of authors whose work mine reminds her of and it is AMAZING. I can then figure out who the agents are (of four so far) and dig in to truly research them, because they may be the ones, so it feels less like a stab in the dark and I can really commit. And you know… their profiles SOUND more like the ones! That isn’t to say I haven’t fallen in love with a DIFFERENT agent--his website was HYSTERICAL and there were a couple Oregon references that only people like me who will always consider Oregon home will get. Michael Murphy at Max & Co. Seriously… just go read his website for a chuckle. I LOVE HIM, but as I have no heroine addicts or incest, or similarly gritty material, I am not quite sure he will love me as much… so I am saving him until EVERYTHING is perfect. And that was the digression for this blog … Back to my point. I am feeling new hope, and a rare thing… patience… I can wait to send this next batch of query letters until my badger is filled with not only Gallahad, Bedevere, and I, but also a shiny new streamlined body and a newly polished hook!


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

You're fortunate to have a friend who can match you up with authors who write in a similar style. Considering all the research you're doing looking for an agent (plus the work you've done on your novel) you should be way ahead of the pack.


Watery Tart said...

Thank you, Elizabeth! I am extremely fortunate with my writer's group. We each have our separate strengths, but I suspect we will ALL need Leanne before we are done!

The one I am working on is more thoroughly a mystery, rather than his nebulous, mixed genre thing, so I may have questions for you then! (I am on chapter 7 of a predicted 24--I'd guess a year out unless somebody pays me my salary and then some for Confluence)