I’ve said before that I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. However, I do have several writing goals for this year. Like many writers, my big goal has to do with making progress toward being published, and that means I have to face my fear.
For me, that translates into… *dun dun dun* Query letters.
That’s right. My fear is not about querying. I can handle rejections just fine. Rather, my inability to write the “perfect” query letter terrifies me to no end.
No, forget “perfect.” There’s no such thing. I’ll settle for “great.” Or even “good enough.” Or “just barely adequate.” Is that so much to ask?
If you knew how many hundreds of blog posts I’ve read, workshops I’ve attended, people I’ve pestered for help, you might start to understand how a perfectionist can obsess about something to the point of inaction. For too long, I’ve queried only minimally because I don’t have faith in my query—for good reason. I suck at queries.
*pshaw* I can hear you saying. “Your queries can’t be that bad. You just think they’re bad because of that writer self-doubt thing.”
Um, no. My queries really and truly suck. I’ve entered those “get feedback on your query” contests that agents occasionally offer. Their response: I’m confused. One-hundred percent of my cold-queries (those where I didn’t have a connection already established) have resulted in form rejections. 100%.
You want to know why I’m not published yet? It’s because my queries make agents weep, and not in a good way. And I’m right there with them. *sobs*
I’ve improved at so many other aspects of writing, from grammar, word count, and descriptions to sensory details, emotion, and synopses. Heck, I’ve even been able to come up with titles lately. A couple of days ago, I came up with the title for my upcoming work in progress. That’s two—two!—titles I like in a row. Yay!
But not queries. Queries are my nemesis. And even if I decide to self-publish, I still have to be able to write a query-like back cover blurb.
I’m doomed, I tell you. Doomed.
So, like a scaredy-cat, I haven’t been querying heavily because I don’t want to burn through my list of preferred agents while I’m mucking about with a horrible query. Instead, I’ve become so intimidated that I keep putting off the whole step of querying.
“I’ll send out a bunch of queries next month.” “I’ll send these after I get a chance to make my query better.” “I need to fix my query before I can touch base with her.”
Uh-huh. Let’s pretend I believe myself for a second—how am I planning on fixing my query?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought my query was “fixed” only to receive feedback that it wasn’t. “It’s still confusing.” “It’s boring.” “It’s melodramatic.” “The stakes are weak.” “It gives the wrong impression.”
I’ve suffered from all the problems, sometimes all at once. Obviously my judgment of my own query is not to be trusted, but I feel like I’ve already pestered my usual beta buddies to the point of annoyance.
So I’m doing something that many of us are loathe to do. I’m asking for help. I’m looking for people willing to beta read queries, and I’ll return the favor. I joked on Twitter that maybe writers need to have a query beta reading matchmaking service.
(And yes, I know about AgentQuery Connect’s Query Critique, but I’m leery of turning my mess of a query over to strangers. However, if you all tell me to give it a chance, I will.)
If you’re willing to give line-by-line “you lost me here” and “this makes me think the story will be like X” feedback, please let me know in the comments. Some familiarity with romance novels would be helpful, just so you don’t hate the query blurb for being a “kissing book.” *smile*
Now it’s your turn to confess! Are you scared of any steps in the writing/publishing process? Do blank pages intimidate you? Do you put off revising because you fear you’ll never get your story to live up to the version in your head? Are you terrified of sending your work out for feedback? What about queries? Contests? Or release days? Share your fears…Pin It