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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Query Letters - The Bane Of My Existence


Elizabeth Black writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and three cats. Visit her web site, her Facebook page, and her Amazon Author Page.

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I'm currently searching for an agent, and I have battled with the dreaded query letter. I thought I did my research, but after attending the Boston writer's conference The Muse And The Marketplace, I discovered I had not written the damned thing correctly. I had written my introduction, named the book, gave the blurb, the word count, genre, and then my publishing history and a little information about my prior movie and TV work.

Turns out I left out an important item – why I am the best person to write this book. The Muse taught me the proper way to write a query letter, and thanks to the conference I did get my first request for a partial. Sadly, that resulted in another rejection, but at least she requested a partial.

I'm not giving up.

According to book developer and principle of The Scribe's Window Cherise Fisher, who gave the talk "The Perfect Pitch" at The Muse And The Marketplace, a pitch is "the transfer of enthusiasm from one person to the next. It's like a virus. You infect with your pitch." Books are meant to entertain, educate, and inspire/provoke. A pitch is the foundation for your proposal. It's your contact with an agent or editor. It's also about being as clear and concise as possible to the person you're pitching to.

My mistake was leaving out my backstory – why a have a passion for this particular story. I needed to personalize my pitch. The perfect book is the book only you can write. This includes your life experiences and your perspective, Reveal what is behind you for writing this book. Wny are you so driven to do it? What's the story, and why is it yours to tell?

If you want to see examples of successful query letters, check out Writer's Digest's Successful Queries page. Not only does the page include scads of very good queries, there are explanations from agents following each query as to why it was a good one. I've learned a great deal from reading those examples.

My next step is to subscribe to Publisher's Marketplace for a month, and find all the agents who represent erotica and erotic romance. Then, if I haven't already written to them, send them my updated query letter and anything else their submission guidelines require.

I'm well aware that this book may never find representation. That surprised and disappointed me, since I've always read about famous books that were rejected by hundreds of agents only to finally find representation and then go on to become huge successes. I had hoped that would be my path. It hadn't occurred to me that I may write to hundreds of agents and all will reject the book. I was advised by one agent to write another book if this one doesn't snag an agent, and look for representation for that one. I'm aware of one writer who now has an agent who submitted a half dozen books over a seven year period before she finally found representation. Apparently, that's a path I may end up taking. So, I have hope although I know I have a lot of work ahead of me.



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