Thursday, August 16, 2012

Second Guessing

I guess today's post is appropriate after Monday's post on The Art of Failing. Nearing the stage where I know my manuscript is almost ready for querying I decided to get that dreaded query letter written, and was ready to give up writing. I smiled on Monday when I read Archana's post. It resonated with me and what I was going through.

I've written a manuscript that I feel is tight. There's tension, the voice is there, the characters are living and breathing, but I couldn't write a query letter, or synopsis to save my life. I sat at the computer typing words only to delete them. This continued for quite some time. I felt like pulling my hair out and screaming. I consulted my outline for help. Nothing. I couldn't come up with a single thing to write in my query that sounded remotely good.

At a loss I finally forced myself to write what I thought was a start. That's just what it was, a start. I promptly took to my critique partners for help. They are the reason I believe every writer should have a trusted group of writers to turn to. They turned right around and started giving me advice, asking questions, and in one case *cough, cough, Kimberly* could not make sense of it.

I laughed when I read Kimberly's response and thought, yup - it stinks. Several emails later I began to wonder why I was even bothering writing a query. I mean, if I can't even write a query based on the manuscript I wrote, what is the point of writing? Obviously if I can't make heads or tails of it, it must not be that great.

I thought, very briefly, of giving up. I almost hung up my hat at becoming a published author. But, when I got the email from Kimberly saying that my synopsis was finally tons better, I changed my mind, again. It just took time, lots of hair pulling, and annoying my poor CPs.

Eventually I did get a better query after pinning down that synopsis, but it still needed work. Kimberly suggested I take it to the QueryTracker forums. So I did. The responses were great and really helped. Yet, they will never compare to what I got from my lovely CPs. Lots of questions, honesty, and encouragement.

In the end I didn't give up. I wanted to for a moment, but I kept pushing through, forcing myself to face those fears of failure. After all, what do I have to lose? Nothing. In the end I gained something: I learned a lot about synopsis and query writing, and I learned a great deal about the art of failing quickly and multiple times before finding that shiny query letter.

Now I have to face an entirely different type of failing - rejections. They are inevitable.


  1. I wish I had used QueryTracker before I sent out my first group of queries, and I will contribute to other people's queries there from now on. My own query starts with a sentence that one of my Critique Partners came up with while in the bathroom. It's brilliant, but irrelevant!

    Thanks for posting this - especially now that you have a release date!

  2. I'm still trying to figure out how to write a query. It keeps evolving, and sometimes I wonder if it's evolved TOO far! My most recent version, which I just sent out to half a dozen agents, now seems completely stripped of voice. I don't think there's one perfect query that will appeal universally. I think it's just a matter of getting the right query in front of the right agent.

    I still panic at every rejection, though. If only I'd sent that OTHER version of the query to that agent, I might have garnered a request! *Sigh*

  3. I'm so glad you didn't give up. Some people can write great stories but can't put a query together, so don't worry about it. That's what query tracker and CPs are for! You did a great job, and you should read MY first query - OMG what a mess!