Saturday, August 16, 2008

Query, Pitch, Repeat

When I decided, a little less than two years ago, that I had what it takes to be a writer - you know, an actual writer, selling my work, not just some guy who writes, which I've always been - I had absolutely no idea how much effort would be involved in just trying to get people to look what I've produced.

You can't just send a novel to a publisher or an agent and expect them to read it, and from their perspective, I understand that. The're busy enough just working to represent the clients they already have, and if they're looking for new writers to represent, they certainly don't have time to slog through 100,000 words from every dope with a keyboard who thinks he can write. From me, in other words.

On the other hand, it's kind of hard to get used to the idea of asking someone's permission to ask their permission, which is essentially what a query letter is. You introduce yourself, give a quick rundown of your project and a quick biographical sketch of yourself (I discovered early on it was a lot easier to accomplish this part when I had actually published a couple of things), and hope the agent/small publisher is impressed enough with your begging and pleading to ask to see either a few chapters of your work or maybe even the whole thing.

Of course, it's not all bad. If this process had been in place when I was a kid, it might have saved me a lot of awkwardness and more than a little embarrassment on more than one Friday night: "Hi, Pam, I'm Al. Is there any chance I could ask you out this weekend?"

"Hi, Al, no."

"Oh. Okay then."

Smooth and easy, not to mention good practice at accepting rejection, which comes in handy with this whole authorial thing I've taken up.

Something else I've discovered - It's not a novel or a manuscript I've written, it's a project. That word implies big things, earth-shattering things, quite possibly things I can't in any way, shape or form deliver, but "project" carries much more weight than "manuscript" and makes it much harder to resist. That's my theory, anyway, and I developed it when my first few agent rejections included reasons why they couldn't take on my "project." When in Rome, right?

But the original point of this post was that it's amazing how much writing it takes just to get anyone to look at your writing. And it's not the fun kind of writing, either. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I'm sure the very next email or letter I send out will be the one that makes all the others worthwhile. I'm sure of that. Yes I am. Definitely.

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