Thursday, November 18, 2010

Literary Agents

Don't you love getting rejections from literary agents? I've come to see them (the rejections) as a forgone conclusion. Agents are inundated with queries. I can imagine how difficult it is to read them and decide whether there's a best seller lurking between the lines, especially when they know that strong query letters are in some ways harder to write than novels. I feel sorry a bit for agents. They might be the most powerful brokers in the literary world, yet they are just guessing. I suppose, taking on an unpublished writer is like walking out on a limb; perhaps their reputations are at stake. They don't want to make a mistake.

Perhaps my query letters should begin "I know you don't want to read this letter, and you don't want to look at my manuscript. Please forgive me for wasting your time. Just stamp on it in big red letters REJECTED  and send it back." Or, maybe, I shouldn't send query letters at all.

I wonder how many outstanding novels were rejected because of poor query letters. How many times have agents taken a look at a manuscript because of a great query letter but the novel turned out to be poorly writen? I have struggled to write good query letters, but none has ever landed me a further look. I am not angry or bitter or even disgusted, just baffled about how to make the letters better. I've read many articles on how to write a query letter that will grab an agent's attention. I've yet to get it right. Or, maybe, my story line just isn't interesting enough. I can't make my historical novel sound like a mystery or adventure or vampire/romance. My books are what they are. I keep trying to make them sound great in a few sentences. Someday, I'll get it right. And, if my novel is not professionally written, it'll get rejected still. Some people do get it right, both ways--query and manuscript--and that gives me hope.

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