The query letter is by far the most difficult 300 words I have every written.
Sometimes in school writing 250-300 words for an assignment took much longer than it should have. I know there were situations where I spent more time griping about the assignment than it took to write! By the time college came around, 300 words could be knocked out in a good 15 minutes. No big deal. Easy.
I have been writing my query for 10 days and I am still apprehensive about sending it out to agents. I have 7 saved drafts that I keep bouncing between trying to get as much information as possible without bogging down the letter. I know agents like it short, sweet, and compelling. My problem right now is that I’m stuck on the first couple of lines. The hook is the most important part, and that has changed about 18 times. I think the second half of the query is solid, but I need to be sure an agent is interested enough to get past those first 20 words.
The hardest part is letting the agent know that this book is not fantasy. I started the first couple query drafts with Charley being in her own world that no one could access, but of course that sounds like fantasy and not like hallucinations. Charley’s perspective is in a world of castles and dragons, but that “world” is all hallucinations/delusions. There are agents I want to query that I think fit the genre but do not represent fantasy. I think it’s clearer now in draft 7, but I think a draft 8 or even draft 11 might make the query read more smoothly.
I think I mentioned this before, but I want to personalize all of my queries to the agent. That of course takes up word count, but I think it’s worth it. I want the agent to know I am serious–that I did my research and that they know why I chose them.
These 300 words have been stressing me out. It is my one shot to make an impression and it has to be a good one. I know I can’t risk sending out an unpolished query on the hopes some agent will have the knowledge that my MS is better than it sounds. No. This query needs to be as compelling as the novel itself. That’s the challenge.
I am ready for this query to be done and interesting and for me to be eager to show it to the world. After it’s done I should probably think about writing a 2 page synopsis. Ugh. That might be even worse!