Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Great Query Critique of a Not-Quite-There Query

So here's what happened:

A month ago I sent out a bunch of query letters for The Water Tower 5, and to date I've had an impressive 1.9% positive response on the thing.  For those of you mathematically-impaired, this is a terrible percentage.  Actually, since precise word choice is important in writing, 1.9% isn't just terrible, it sucks.  Like gold medal in the Olympics level of suck .  How's that for precise?

Logically, I understand that a as 42-year-old adult I should take all rejection in stride and put it into perspective.  I mean, I'm healthy, have a great family, and a great job.  Put simply, I have zero to complain about.  Whining that "I can't get an agent to request my manuscript" is pretty much the epitome of a First World Problem, at least with how my life is.  This doesn't mean, however, that even though I understand this logically, that I've reacted logically.  In fact, with every form rejection that's shown up in my Inbox I've been like:
                                     (Okay, so maybe not like this.  I mean, I have better teeth than that guy, but not by much.)

Eventually, in hopes of sparing my family from my continual irritation, I decided something had to be done.  I mean, I thought my query letter was pretty good - not great, but good enough.  I wondered if maybe: A. the language was too strong, B. the word count was too high, or C. that possibly ending every letter with a menacing, "It certainly wouldn't be too difficult for me to find out where you live" was the problem.  (One of those three choices isn't true.)  I started second-guessing everything about the query letter, the manuscript itself, and even my own writing abilities.  Ultimately, I had to do something before:

(Not like this would help.  I've got it all backed-up on Dropbox, and I can't just destroy all of their servers, right?  Or could I?)

Finally, sanity returned long enough for me to consult with my more rational friends, Kimberly Gabriel (go to her blog, she's fabulous), who pointed me in Matt MacNish's direction.  

Me: "Who's Matt MacNish?"
Kimberly: "He's like the Obi-Wan Kenobi of query letters."
Me: "Cool, but could he beat me up?  Because I can't be friends with any guy who could beat me up."
Kimberly: "Kurt, every guy could beat you up."
Me: "Which explains why I don't have any guy friends."
(This conversation never took place.)

So long (like really long, right?) story short, I went to Matt's blog, and saw what Kimberly was talking about.  Matt does these great query critiques, and I sent him an email asking if he'd give mine a go.  He (wonderfully and awesomely) agreed, and his critique is up today.  Go read it HERE, and then subscribe to his blog because he really is a super nice guy and gives great advice.  (Oh, and his shouting from the mountaintops about Grasshopper Jungle is dead on, too).

Now to start revising!  I'll post a (hopefully) improved query sometime next week.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this, Kurt. I need to start thinking about a query letter in the next month or so. Definitely going to refer to his critique of yours.