How to Write a Query Letter: Again, and Again, and Again

Posted on 22/05/2014 by

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I’m writing query letters again. Because it’s been pointed out to me that in order to sell this book I probably have to tell people about the book. Which is fair.

This ought to be easy. I’ve already written a query letter template. Surely I just write a little personalisation sentence to tweak it for the individual agent and off it goes? Right?

So naturally, the first thing I did was completely rewrite the synopsis. Because… I don’t know. Apparently that’s part of my process. And I kinda hated the last one. I… don’t hate the new one. That’s as far as I’m willing to go. But I have other things to stress about. Like what genre the damn thing is.

I wasn’t happy with my original choice because while it was true I didn’t think it gave a complete idea of what the book was. It’s like if you were selling a book that was space opera and you called it science fiction. It is science fiction, but that’s not going give the best indication of the feel of the book.

After extensive consideration (including ceiling staring, inventing increasingly ludicrous genre mashups, complaining, researching) I’ve decided it’s ‘pulp noir science fiction’. Which sounds suitably ridiculous.

Calling it that also kind of emphasises the cliché I’m playing with in the opening, which I’m not totally sure about, but I figure, I do that a lot — mess about with clichéd tropes that is. Anyone who wants to work with me should know up front what they’re getting into.

So. I’ve written a synopsis that doesn’t fill me with loathing. I’ve isolated a genre that I think gives a better idea of what this book is than what I had before. I’ve made a shortlist of agents. I’ve banged my head against the back of the sofa (closer than the wall). I’m ready.*

* Probably. Maybe I should revise them one more time? Or set them aside and think about it for another week? Or have a cookie? Cookies are good…