I spent months researching how to write a query letter, visiting the plethora of blogs dealing with the matter. I picked through Nathan Bransford’s upbeat and encouraging query instructionals. I read through 130 of Query Shark’s query critiques, which were helpful, but terrifying (what did I expect? The site isn’t called Query Cuddly Bunny or Query Momma with Cookies and Milk). I studied Kristin Nelson’s blog. I went on Agent Query and learned from their advice. But, as I studied I came across a lot of conflicting information—some agents wanted me to make a personal connection, some wanted me to stick to the business at hand, Kristin Nelson only wanted to hear about the first fifty pages of the book, while the Query Shark didn’t want to be left in the dark about the ending.
Then, I spent a year writing a query letter for my fifth novel. Yes, a year! Is that because I’m slow or anal? I’m not sure. Maybe both. The terrible part is, after over a year of effort, I’ve not succeeded in gathering an agent’s affection.
I imagine a lair buried deep inside a dormant volcano, a glass floor with magma flowing beneath it. Literary agents and editors gather around the table. One puffs on an over-sized cigar. A woman with a German accent purses her lips. And their leader, a bald man in a grey suit, strokes his hairless cat. Together they devise ways to thwart people like me. “After they write their book. We shall make them condense it to five sentences. These five sentences must be active, interesting, and make me hear angels singing the hallelujah chorus. Mwahaha mwahaha MWAHAHAHAHA!”
Paranoia aside. I get the why’s. I know these people receive a lot of emails. I know I’m an unknown. I know I’m asking them to take a huge risk on me. I know they’re doing their best to find some gems in the slush pile. I get that, but it doesn’t make this process any easier. I’m querying this thing and have already received plenty of rejections. This process is painful and honestly, giving birth was more enjoyable.
So without further ado: Top Six Reasons Why Giving Birth is More Fun Than Querying my Novel
6. When I give birth I have a 95 per cent chance of a positive outcome.
5. Everyone around me in labour is full of encouragement. No one tells me I can’t do it or I’ll never make it in the baby making business.
4. People ask to hold your baby. Even if it’s your first baby! Unlike publishing where no one will touch your baby with a nine foot pole.
3. A day or two of excruciating pain and it’s over. I get to enjoy the efforts of my labour.
2. No one looks at my newborn and says, “Not interested. I see 50 babies like yours everyday.”
1. No one pushes the baby back inside because it needs more work.
Melinda Friesen writes short stories and novels for teens. In her spare time researches how to write query letters and beats her head against walls. Her first novel, Enslavement, is due for release from Rebelight Publishing Inc. in October 2014, so clearly not all her queries have ended in failure.