I had another post in mind for today. One filled with my usual moments of mortification. It
involved entirely too much information, more than you would ever want to know about my
choice in underwear and the ridiculousness that circumscribes my life.
I had other plans, too. After a weekend filled with the debauchery of good food and wine, I
was going to kill my muscles with a double workout and flood myself with fluids and sensible
things like fruit and brown rice and steamed veggies.
I was planning on catching up on the towering pile of laundry that constantly haunts my dreams.
I was also intent on clean sweeping my house and lording over my children with my mom whip.
I warned them yesterday, on Monday the good times were over. The Dung Beetle Dungeon was
going to be sanitized and scrubbed free of all its mutant germs.
It was going to be a Puritanical Monday.
But, then someone dear to my heart took my arm and twisted it behind my back and upended
all my big plans.
I know I've hinted of things to come and so today I'll spill it all to you here, Internet.
So, as you all know, there's this novel I've written. It sits patiently waiting for me in my Word Documents, just biding its time to see the light of day.
I've kept it there because just when I'd completed it, in the impeccable timing of the universe,
the publishing world came crashing down just like the rest of the economy.
The word was, no one was getting a chance.
So I sat and waited for better times. And as the light began to shine again, I made up more
And then more.
And that is exactly what they were—excuses.
Because, the truth of the matter is—I am afraid, very afraid.
I am afraid of being found not good enough. I am afraid that my time and efforts will have
all been a waste. I am afraid to step off this cliff and jump into the wild unknown.
There, I've said it.
For the folks unfamiliar with the publishing world, I'd like to fill you in on the daunting steps it
takes to bring an unpublished work to the light of day, in a totally Laundry Girl spin on things.
For those of us who dream of being published, the smartest way to grab for that brass ring is
through a literary agent. Literary agents are the magical fairies of the publishing industry. Agents
are Super Busy People who spend their days negotiating killer deals for authors, wading through
their mountainous slush piles built out of the dreams of unpublished hopefuls, writing
encouraging, chock-full-of-advice blogs and lots and lots of other Super Busy Agent things.
In short, they don't have a great deal of extra time.
Somewhere along the line, one of these Super Busy Agents discovered a much more efficient
way to weed out the good writers from the "Not for me" writers.
They invented the query letter.
I'm not certain who that agent was, but I do know that sadistic, twisted soul laughed all the way
These days, agents ask not to see manuscripts but query letters. A query sounds so genteel and
elegant. "Pardon me My Lady, might you be so kind as to query me with your charming,
A query letter is anything but genteel and elegant. It is hardcore, formulaic and demanding. A
query letter is a Bitch on Monster Truck Wheels. A query letter is your 30 second shot to dance
while those gun-slinging Super Busy Agents are shooting at your feet.
The query letter requirements of Super Busy Agents goes something like this:
Attention Wannabee Writer:
Now that you've toiled laboriously and given your life over to your work, creating through
your blood, sweat and profuse tears, a novel you hope will somehow inconceivably see the light
of day, please sum up your novel in 3 to 5 sentences. Yes. You heard me, 3 to 5 sentences. Make
sure your grammar, punctuation and spelling are utterly perfect. Wring your hands in angst over
Every. Single. Word. Make each word powerful, concise and snappy. Is "the" really the best
choice there? Come on, you can do better than that! Hook! Hook! Hook! And don't forget to fawn
over me, the Super Busy Agent. Not too much in a creepy sort of way or I'll reject you and not too
little because, (sorry, with a big smiley face), I'll reject you. Keep it single spaced with a double
space in between paragraphs. 12 point font. Times New Roman. Left margins. One page only.
AND FOR GOD'S SAKE, NO WIRE HANGERS, EVER!!!!!!
Super Busy Agents do not have time to mess around and they can hit that reject button faster than
my kids can empty a package of EL Fudge Double Stuffed Cookies and leave the empty box on
the pantry shelf. We're talking lightning speed, my friends.
Writing a great query letter is a foot in the door. If the Super Busy Agent likes your letter, a partial manuscript is summoned. If the Super Busy Agent still finds you to their liking, a full manuscript is requested. Then, if the Gods of Publishing Dreams are smiling upon you, there might be an offer
It's the same sort of odds-on-might as, "If you fish out a buck for that lottery ticket, you MIGHT
win the ten million dollar payout." Or, "If you show up on Jerry Springer to air out your personal problems, you MIGHT just get everything worked out without any chair throwing, DNA testing
or slug fests between your kin.
It is an understatement when I say that writing a query letter is an excruciating process. If my
dentist would offer me a root canal without anesthesia in exchange for the perfect query letter,
I would open my mouth, grip the arms of the chair and say, "Let's go, Doc."
And so I have put it off, storing my half written queries up on the shelf next to my novel that
waits so patiently for me.
Yesterday, I received an email from a blogger friend, telling me about a new, wonderful blog.