There’s a part of the writing process that I really don’t like. Just the thought of it sends chills down my spine and sends me scurrying for my secret chocolate supply.
Or rather, the idea of selling myself, which is essentially what querying is.
Writing is a solitary profession, and by nature us writers tend to be sensitive souls. We’d rather sit at our desks, frantically transcribing the musings of the people who live in our heads, than deal with actual people. You know, face-to-face and everything.
Unfortunately there comes a time when those musings, edited, trimmed, polished and pummeled into a gripping narrative, need to see the light of day. You need to – gasp – query an agent!
And this is where you need to get comfortable with the idea of selling yourself; anathema to a writer more used to talking about their characters and plot.
The reason for this is very simple. Agents receive thousands upon thousands of submissions every year. Some of them will be very good. A few will be excellent (as is yours of course). The trick is to make sure you stand out from the pack.
How do you do this? Follow the submission guidelines to the letter, have a killer synopsis/query letter and, perhaps most importantly, convince the agent that they want to work with you. Show your commitment. Demonstrate your professionalism.
Jessica Faust at Bookends Literary Agency’s sums it up beautifully: ‘Your opening line should also include any details that make you stand out from the crowd. Are you published? A major award winner? Do you have editors reviewing requested fulls? All of this information can help get you to the top of my stack’.
To all those pre-published authors out there, my challenge to you is to start thinking about this now. Don’t wait until you’re writing the query letter and be faced with the tyranny of the blank page. Why not start right now? Use the comments to practice selling yourself.
Tell me why you’re great!