free image courtesy of

Into the book publishing abyss I go!

Okay, abyss travel takes a bit of preparation, so consider me packing my most necessary items.

What is this abyss? In my 2017 wrap-up/2018 resolutions post, I wrote about journeying into the abyss that is querying literary agents to represent my historical novel manuscript.

Why the trepidation? Because novelists I know spent years querying agents before receiving a reply email–much less a contract.

(And then there’s ego. There’s the fact that my novel manuscript is my first child–born before my human children. It has changed a lot through the years, gone through growing pains (and novel workshops and beta readers and many revisions and edits); but the germ of the story has stayed the same, and it’s mine and–I freely admit–I still love it.)

I love this baby enough to send it out into the world–to be tested and judged.

Why not self-publish? Because I know enough about myself–this self who only entered the world of social media in 2017–to know it’s not for me.

So I must pack for my trip into the publishing abyss, and I hope you’ll come with me! (These posts will be found all in one place on my newly-reorganized blog. Categories: publishing.)

What to pack?

The novel manuscript is raring to go. Only, agents are very busy people who don’t take kindly to 80,000 words landing on their desks. (Go figure.) So, they require a kind of passport:

That passport is the agent query letter. Whether sent through snail mail or email, the agent query is the most important thing I’ll ever write. Really.

This how-to article sums up the agent query letter’s importance nicely:

“A query letter is a one-page letter sent to literary agents in an effort to get them excited about your book. You have one page and 300 words (or less) to woo a literary agent into falling in love with your story and then requesting your manuscript.”

See? Trepidation!

I’m still editing my agent query letter–whittling it down from a hulking 330 words. EVERY WORD COUNTS.

My hook:

In the vein of Snow Falling on Cedars, LOW HEAVEN is a completed 86,000-word historical novel that explores loyalty to family, friends, and faith and what it means to be an American, through the untold story of the exclusion and internment of Italians in America during World War II.*

What do you think? Like it? Hate it? (I can take it.) Comment at will!

More to come. Stay tuned to the journey…


*Goes without saying, since we’re friends here, but all my writing at Rust Belt Girl is protected intellectual (even if it doesn’t sound like it) property. Thanks. ~ Rebecca









15 thoughts on “Step 1: What to pack for a trip into the novel-publishing abyss?

  1. THose are endearing topics and I do not think people talk about Italian internment enough. Actually, they are one of the last ethnicities where it is somehow ok to mock, lampoon and stereotype. You have me interested.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for checking in! I think one reason the Italian (and German) internment doesn’t get talked about much is because the Japanese internment was so sweeping. From what I’ve read about the Italian nationals who were interned in U.S. camps, they endured the separation from their families (in the U.S., Italy or both) and then just wanted to move on with their lives. There wasn’t a rally to talk about it. I’m not of Italian stock or a historian, so I don’t feel able to talk about it in a familial/ historical way. But I am a storyteller–hopefully the story will find its way into the world and make a few people take notice. And you’re right about stereotyping Italians. Not sure why that is. If you’ve read Mario Puzzo, my manuscript is definitely more on The Fortunate Pilgrim than The Godfather end of things!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your hook isn’t bad, but it doesn’t capture my interest right away either. The part about Italian internment is more interesting than the themes. Is there a way to rework the hook to leave out the themes and focus on the plot? Introducing the stakes and main character might be good too.

    I would read that book btw 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for getting me to revisit this post of mine–and the hook for my book. I did a Pitch Madness event on Twitter recently, which really helped me hone my hook–it has to fit in one tweet–and here’s the one that worked best: “WW2 Cali, when Italy becomes an enemy of the US, having a wife who still reveres Mussolini may mean an immigrant’s downfall. When he’s unduly arrested and interned, his wife and American neighbors rally to right the wrong.” I hope this book sees the light of day before too long–it’s a slogging, but interesting and challenging process! Thank you for stopping by the blog!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s