So, already got my first rejection off my new query letter. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure my new letter isn’t perfect. I think it’s pretty darn good, and I spend a helluva lot of time perfecting it yesterday, using my wife as a sounding board for how it actually read, verses how I intended it to read. However, I do not take this rejection as any form of a response on whether this query letter words or not.
That’s because I’m an idiot.
Proofreading is an important thing in the life of a writer, always has been, always will be. When sending out something to an agent you want to impress, there’s one piece of proofreading that is all that much more important than anything else. . . how you address it.
Here’s how this one was addressed:
Good afternoon Ms. [last name of agent I’m querying]
Good afternoon Ms. [last name of agent I queried half an hour ago]
That’s right. . . my copy and paste skills were lacking as I did not realize I copied over the salutation from my previous query letter as well. Now, it’s very possible that this agent who shot off a wonderfully quick rejection letter just didn’t care for my query letter. However, it’s even more possible that this agent felt like they were being spammed by a worthless author who just wanted to hit up every agent e-mail address he could find, not caring who he landed upon. . .
In other words, it’s sloppy, and I totally respect ANY agent who instantly rejects something as sloppy as that. The indentation in my desk from my head banging against it repeatedly shows how stupid I feel right now.
Yes, I could just brush it off (and will have to in order to get on with my day) as just another lost agent, not caring because there’s so many more agents in the agent-filled sea. . . perhaps I should work on my metaphor skills as well. . . but I just can’t. I query the agents I query because I believe they are fantastic options in people who will fight for me. People who I believe can not only represent me well, but represent me in a way that I wish to be represented. Each of these that I lose from something as stupid as this is another agent I wasted my chance with. That can’t happen. Must proofread better.
On that same note, while working on my query letter yesterday, gathering as much information immediately available as possible, I couldn’t help but feel like I was back in a high school english classroom. Now, granted, we’re talking about people who work with the english language as a profession, and therefore have every right to be persnickety about the usage of that language, but still. . . I mean, some of these critiques get down and dirty. Instant rejections just because of a dislike of a word, or how the paragraphs are split up, or, of course my largest issue, because of too many or few commas.
I love commas. I’ve been trying to get better with them, but a comma seems to do so much with telling how you want a sentence to read. . . even if you use them inappropriately to do so.
And writers, even though they are the purveyors of the english language, are not grammar experts. They probably should be, but with all of their focus on creating worlds, believable characters, and a lovable story, well, they’ve got a lot on their plate already.
Of course, a query letter is a whole different beast, seeing as it’s the tuxedo you’re presenting yourself in to these gatekeepers of the publishing world. And I don’t look down on agents for caring so much. They get such giant piles of crap in their slush piles (as well as enormous piles of worthwhile stuff) that having anything to use to filter the pile down makes sense. Such as if a prospective client doesn’t remove the previous agent’s name from the query letter they are sending you. Ugh.
So, although I have made some complaints about the querying process in the past, and I’m sure I’ll whine about it more in the future, after researching the process more (as well as reading way too many piles of query letters myself) I totally understand. I still think sending a rejection letter would be a nice piece of common courtesy, instead of just saying no response means no, but I understand.
I hated reading these query letters even more than I hated writing mine. Out of the hundreds I read over the past 24+ hours, there were only 2 or 3 that really piqued my interest.
So, the question then became, how the hell do I become one of those 2 or 3. I’m still not 100% positive that my query letter puts me in that pile, but it puts me a lot closer. I guess we’ll start seeing before too long. And I mean, then, all I have to do is make sure that my manuscript is something they care about. That’s gotta be simple, right?
I just keep hoping that all this gets simpler and less stressful after one gets an agent. I have to hope for that. As it is, this process makes the act of being a writer a much less desirable occupation.