Monday, November 28, 2011

Queries, Schmeries

I have begun sending out queries to agents, pitching my latest novel The Last Guest. Unlike my first bout of querying back in 2009, I am having a good time. Three years ago I was intimidated by literary agents but now that I've worked with two of them I realize that they're just people and the best way to talk to them is to treat them like rational, intelligent folks and not like mysterious alien beings. Also, during the last three years I've gotten comfortable with writing pitches of my novels so I'm not wigging out at that. I'm not wigging out at all. It's actually easy and fun. Though I'm not querying anyone who asks for a synopsis. I don't like synopses. I'll write one for a book that's going on submission, but I won't write one for use in querying an agent.

This is all time consuming, though. That's the annoying part of this: even with such swell tools as AgentQuery, there's a lot of slogging through useless websites (and can I just say that for people who work in publishing, representing professional writers, a lot of literary agents could really use an editor to work over their awful, awful, poorly-written and ungrammatical business websites) and guessing as to what people really mean in their lists of genres that interest them. Seriously, literary agents of America, most of the material that represents you to the public is vague to the point of meaninglessness. And your websites are eyesores, too. Do something about it, please. Spend a little cash. Hire a professional.

But I digress. As I say, agents are just people and so--as someone who writes business letters every day at the office--I'm just writing business letters and that's not anything to get flapped up about. I like the pitch I've written for The Last Guest and I like the book a lot, too. I'm not going hog-wild and querying every agent I can find. In 2009 I wrote eight query letters before hooking up with Jeff and since then I've met a few agents and possibly I'll contact them soon about the new book. Some of my author friends have offered to introduce me to their agents, too. So I am sort of awash in agents.

I'm also working, though slowly, on a new novel that I think has great potential if I can ever finish it. So things are looking pretty good as I move into the end of 2011. How are things for you?


  1. My focus is on marketing THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS. It being a book about the origins of Santa, 'tis the season and all...

    I'm also getting started with illustrations for Rudy Toot-Toot, which I will publish in the spring.

    As for new writing, I am getting back to my satire about the end of the world. I'm not sure if I'll publish that one myself or set about querying. Right now I'm thinking I'll go traditional with that book and query it.

  2. Why, thank you for asking. Any day now, the mail carrier should be dropping five ARCs of my mystery novel, SEATTLE SLEUTH, on my front porch. One of them will immediately be sent to a local mystery author who has agreed to do a blurb. So that's making me happy.

    Otherwise, I've been making a valiant attempt to paint a Great Gray Owl without a lot to show for it so far. Always learning.

    Good luck on the agent hunt!

    -Alex MacKenzie

  3. Rick, I hope you sell lots of copies! Everyone, I hope you buy lots of copies of Rick's book!

    Alex, that's exciting about the ARCs of SEATTLE SLEUTH! And about the blurb! I am using too many exclamation points in this comment! What's the pub date for SS?

    I imagine that attempts to paint an owl would leave you with a lot of bites and scratches.

  4. Ooo, I have Rick's book, but not Alex's book. Can't wait to get my hands on that one!

    I adored your book, Scott. It had some really great spots where I specially dog-eared the pages so I could go back later and talk to you about them. I will do that soon. :)

    I am currently finishing up SCALES, and my proof copy of TRUE COLORS arrived today. I'm in love and can't wait to get it up for sale. :)

    I'm really happy to hear you are much more at ease with the agent stuff this time around!

  5. Michelle, Mighty Reader hates dogeared pages, but I can't help myself. I try to leave her books alone. Mostly with success. Yes, tell me what a great book I've written!

    I can't wait to buy and read a copy of TRUE COLORS. I assume it will be available in time for Christmas?

    Have I mentioned that I have an incredible idea for my Variations on a Theme story? Is everyone writing a story for us yet?

  6. I hate dogeared pages, too, but I figured it's better than writing in it in case Adam wants to read it. Yes, TRUE COLORS should be available by next week, I hope.

    Tonight, I'd like to start my Variations story. :)

  7. That's funny that you are talking about dogeared pages because I hate them too. I hardly ever do it, but I have in the Last Guest once so far. I really liked a sentence I read this morning, and then I spent about 5 minutes debating if I should fold the page over so that I could have it marked for always. I did. I even considered quoting you in Cyberlama, which really could be cool, don't you think?

    Speaking of dog ears, I went dog shopping this weekend at a local shelter. 1) I wanted to rescue all the animals because they all looked at me like they needed my love and didn't want to be there anymore. 2) There was one dog in particular named P-nut that I just can't get out of my head. If, when the time comes in a few days he is still there, then maybe he will be mine. If not, then I will know he went to a good home. Any alternative is very sad.

  8. Davin, I had a similar experience with dogearing the pages. What I ended up doing was folding them over only to crease them, and then folded it back up so it laid flat again. That way it's easy to find the creased pages. :)

    I really hope you get a puppy someday. :(

  9. Davin: Yes, quote me in Cyberlama. That would be very cool.

    I think I started to like dog-eared pages once I saw how they look like dog's ears. And "dog-eared" is a cool word. I like cool words. I also underline and write in the margins of books. Mighty Reader does not allow that, but some of my books are pretty well marked up. You should see the working copy of "Hamlet" I used; it's marked up in multiple colors.

    If you get a puppy, I expect to see photos.

  10. If I plan to write in the margins of books, then I have to buy a second copy of the book for it. Wow, that sounds really rigid when I type it!

    And if I do get a puppy there will definitely be pictures. In the end, it probably won't be a puppy so much as a teenage or adult dog. There were more of those at the shelter and they all looked like they needed love too.

  11. All dogs need love. All cats need love, too. All we need is love. Love is all you need. And stuff.

  12. There are these amazing things called bookmarks, people! They can be torn bits of paper. You insert them at the pages to which you want to return. If they're blank, you can even write notes about the text on them.

    (Don't talk to me about rigid. Or about cute animals you want to take home. Scott doesn't mention this weekend's gray cat encounter.)

  13. Bookmarks are unneccesary when you can simply mark the book itself, madam! A bookmark can fall out or be moved, but the dog-eared page is there for the life of the book! You see that as a failure, I see it as a triumph!

    The gray tomcat was very sweet and had the saddest eyes. I'm sure someone will take him home. You are forbidden in future to look at cats up for adoption.

  14. Scott: the pub date for Seattle Sleuth is March 1. Closer than you think!

    -Alex MacKenzie

  15. Everything is closer than I think. Which explains all these bruises.


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