August 5, 2010

The Evolution of a Query, Part IV

Ah, more query letters! What joy!

Once again, a quick timeline of my query evolution thus far:

Query #1
April to mid-May 2009
6 queries, 0 requests

Query #2
mid-May to June 2009
15 queries, 1 full request

Query #3
late-October to November 2009
7 queries, 0 requests

And so begins Query Letter Number Four...

At this point in time (November 2009) I was quite used to getting rejections on my queries. Instead of crying and yanking on my hair each time I received a rejection, I just sighed and deleted the email and ignored the throbbing inside my chest. (Querying was so much fun!)

With no requests from Query #3, I decided to re-work my query yet again. And this time, I decided to break out the big guns. I bought a copy of Elana Johnson's e-book "From the Query to the Call" (which is utterly fabulous!) and I applied all of her wisdom to my query. After tweaking the query for a few days--okay, many many days--this is what I came up with:

When twelve-year-old Danny Singer finds an alien standing on his front porch, he knows his life has just gotten pretty strange.

Even stranger, he has no idea why the eight-foot-tall creature insists on delivering a message—just for him.

And strangest of all, Danny can’t help but freak out when the alien tells him the bad news. The solar system’s most feared enemy, the Locusts, want to devour the Earth as their next meal. And even scarier? Danny may know how to defeat the bloodthirsty bugs—for only he can use a mystical sword that reveals an enemy’s fatal flaw.

Yeah, maybe Danny’s math homework isn’t such a big deal after all…

With the Locusts creeping closer to Earth, Danny knows he can’t sit back and watch the bugs destroy his home. So he agrees to join an army of alien knights, who teach him how to wield his new blade. But figuring out the Locusts’ weakness is a lot harder than he ever imagined.

If Danny really wants to find the bugs’ lone flaw, he’ll have to square off against the Locust King himself. And if he can’t find the courage to do this, he might as well kiss the Earth—and his mom—goodbye.

I sent out about 13 copies of Query #4 from December 2009 through early February 2010. And you know what happened?

I got requests! THREE requests!

I felt like I hit the jackpot. I squeeled. I skipped. I squeaked with joy. Three requests! Oh my sweet goodness! After getting rejected for nearly a year, I was finally on my way! Immediately, I sent out my manuscript (2 fulls, 1 partial) and I eagerly waited. Surely, this was gonna be my moment! SURELY! I waited. And waited...

And I got rejected. Again. But this time, it wasn't on my query--it was on my manuscript. Oh man. I hadn't felt pain like this. I cried and cried. It hurt so badly. It was one thing to get rejected from a 250-word query, but it was quite another thing to get rejected on a 67,000-word manuscript that I had revised and rewrote and revised and rewrote. For over a year and a half.

So bittersweet, eh? I'd finally written a query that had gotten a semi-decent request rate (at least, it was for me!) but nobody wanted my book. Gah! What must I do to have the writing gods smile down upon me?!

Which brings us to...Query #5! Tomorrow!

3 comments:

  1. Caroline, these posts are so great. First of all, I'm so impressed that you saved every version of your query letter. Second, posting them so everyone can pick them apart, watch their evolution and learn from what you learned is wonderful. You rock.

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  2. These are great posts, Caroline. I'm going to pass this on to one of my writing groups that is currently talking about query letters. Thanks!

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  3. Thanks, Lindsay! I'm glad you liked them! As for saving each letter, I actually didn't *save* them. I just dug them up from my Gmail account! Haha.

    Vonna, thanks for your comment! I'm so flattered that you'll pass on these posts to your writing group! If I can be of any more help, just let me know!

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