Monday, June 11, 2012

Agent Query Update - Write Angry?

So here's what happened - LUCKY TOWN was one of five novels in final consideration at Blank Slate Press for upcoming release.  And I made the rookie mistake of getting my hopes up - like really up - so that when the rejection came last Monday, I got really frustrated and down.   (Fortunately, my students were taking exams, so they didn't catch my wrath).  Part of the problem, I realized, was that responses from agents had slowed to one a week - all rejections - and I'm a definitely a "need something to look forward to" guy.  So then I made what easily should have been rookie mistake number two - I got angry and wrote a new query letter, one I've taken to calling "the pissy version".

Now, it's not like the letter was full of profanity and threats (although I did consider it).  It's  just a lot looser, a lot more in my voice, and with a little bit more "f' it" attitude.  My thought was, If my other query letter is getting nothing but form rejections, why not get them from a letter that contains a little more of me?

From that letter I've gotten four full manuscript requests.

Is the lesson here to write angry?  I'm not sure.  Maybe.  Or maybe it's to put a little more of me in my work.  I'm definitely proud of Lucky Town, but I would never say there's much of me in there.  (I take a jab at home schooling, but beyond that, the novel is pretty serious and dark, as the subject matter calls for). But I've taken the idea of putting more of me in my work - sarcastic, a bit cynical, a smart ass - in my approach to my next novel.  If anything, I think it'll make the process somewhat more enjoyable for me.  And maybe this is the real beginning of finding my writer's voice, something I've never thought I had before.


  1. So do you think it's yet another sign of the changing publishing world? Would writing a query this way ten years ago have gotten the same interest?

    Either way, congratulations on the results.

  2. I don't know the answer to that. I think my latest query is just a lot more relaxed while still being professional. I also think it's a little more on the nose than the other one. For example, I didn't use the word "cult" in my first query, even though that's the community that arises. I justified it by saying the word never appears in the novel as people in cults never think they're in cults, but with a query letter, no, it needs to be there.

  3. You? Not have a writer's voice? Kurt - that is your strength! I would LOVE to read the "pissy version" of you query letter!

  4. Good luck with Lucky Town! Your voice comes out loud and strong on your blog. One that's easy to read. You mentioned you'd like to bring out more of the smart ass side of you in your writing. I say, "go for it!" You have a wonderful strength in your voice! : )

  5. Thanks for that, Linda. Always nice to know my smart ass side comes out in my writing. :)