…because “hell” seemed a little strong.

What’s up?

Months ago, I announced that it was time for me to dive into the process of seeking literary representation (an agent) for my WIP, a historical novel manuscript.

I was ready. However, my manuscript wasn’t…quite. (And you only get one chance to make a good impression–or any impression at all–on an agent.) So, revise revise revise, and I have come out the other side knowing that now is–really–the time.

I talked here before about the steps required to prepare for this journey. Step 1 is knowing what to “pack” for the publishing road ahead, with agent query letter as “passport.” Step 2 involves putting myself in an agent’s shoes. What might he/she want of me besides a manuscript? Step 3 will involve compiling a list of agent who might be a good fit (stay tuned…).

Today: I’m in query letter purgatory. It’s not hell, really. We writers write and we write about writing, and so to get to write about our own writing is kinda neat–if tasking, and requiring a good bit of objectivity. Some say the query letter is tougher to write than the novel (a bit of an exaggeration, but still valid): As in, boil down an 85,000-word story into a 150 word synopsis. Oh sure, no problem. It certainly can’t hurt to start with a fantastic first line (or “hook”).

And here’s another couple pieces that I’m using to spit-shine my agent query letter:

Successful Query Letter with Lots of Tips by Erin Beaty on Kathy Temean’s wonderful blog Writing and Illustrating

How to Polish Your Query Letter for a Professional Shine on the Writer’s Relief site

All you writers out there, ever written an agent query letter? How’d it go?

When I’m not working on my query letter, I’m reading novels I could use as comparisons to mine. Right now it’s Lilac Girls about the Ravensbruck women’s concentration camp, which isn’t a close enough fit, but I’m enjoying it.

What are you writing and reading this week? Like this publishing talk? There’s a category for that at the top of my site.



19 thoughts on “Agent query letter purgatory

  1. Oh I am very interested in how this goes for you… I’ve self published my series and am determined to try the traditional publishing route for my next novel (not in the series, and I might even write with a pen name, not sure…) Anyway, I’ve started reading up on writing query letters myself, but my new manuscript is only in it’s infancy, though fully plotted out. Fingers crossed for you! 🤞🙏🏻💗

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you–I need all the fingers and toes crossed that I can get! Self-publishing is daunting to me for so many reasons, including having to do all your own PR. I’m impressed with your accomplishment–3 novels is wonderful! I look forward to seeing what you do with your new one. Good to study up on the query letter now–and the synopsis can certainly help focus in on your plot. Happy writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Because of your interview with David Giffels, I just started “Furnishing Eternity” last night. In just the first paragraph, I relate to so many things Giffels writes about, so I’m SO excited to read the rest of his book. After I’m finished, I will be hand the book to my father – my woodworking mentor.

    Also, I’m pinning this post, as I plan to reference your posts throughout my next year of writing. Your tips are so helpful, as are the links you provide. Thank you, Rebecca 🙂 Oh, and the best of luck with your query letter. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so glad you’re liking “Furnishing Eternity.” Really, I can’t imagine someone not liking it! David told another interviewer that, when he told his mom his idea for that book, she said “It better be funny from page one.” Of course, it is. And for anyone who appreciates woodworking, it’s fascinating.

    I’m happy you find this post helpful–I feel like my stay in agent query purgatory should benefit more than just me! Thanks for the well-wishes! I can’t wait to read your latest post!


  5. I’m curious now..from your post, I gathered that a query letter is something presented to seduce an agent. Can this be done with a book proposal as well? I understand what a book proposal is..but, I just curious if people ever use one after they write the book?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm. Not quite sure. Since I’m writing fiction, I’ve only studied up on the query letter, which, as you gather, is indeed written to seduce an agent. I think the term “book proposal” is usually reserved for nonfiction. (Those writing fiction are supposed to have a completed manuscript before seeking representation.) I don’t know if writers of nonfiction switch to a more query letter-ish form–after the book is written. I’ll have to research this! Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for responding…i just found it surprising that you only get roughly 150-200 words to entice an agent…But, in this noisy word full of everyone selling great ideas, I guess that’s your “very small” chance to get heard….good luck!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. How funny! I’m enjoying it–as much as I can enjoy a book on such a tough subject–a concentration camp–but, as my novel follows closely the lives of characters who eventually meet, it’s instructional. Thanks for the luck; I’ll need it!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m in query hell (yes, that strong at rejection #26) but determined to keep on going. I find myself chanting Rocky Balboa phrases to myself every time I check my email. Best to you, and I’m glad I found your blog. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OK, now I have the Rocky song in my head. Ugh. But really, I’m so glad you found me here. Just checked our your blog–following–and read your story, “The Boots,” on The Forge. Really great. Best of luck with the agent query-ing. We’re all in this together. And by that I mean mostly in spirit from my end, since I’ve been avoiding the whole process this month. Got to get back to it. Btw, I’m from Chardon–don’t get back to NE Ohio often enough but miss it.

      Liked by 1 person

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