Wednesday, August 1, 2012

IWSG - Taking the Leap?

It's time for another installation of The Insecure Writer's Support Group, which posts on the first Wednesday of every month.  Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

I'm struggling with taking the leap and sending out my query.  I want it to be perfect, but perfect doesn't exist.

"I want us to be a generation of finishers.  I want us to be a generation of people who follow through and sew the last stitch or give the final keynote or write the last chapter.  And in order to get there, we have to murder perfectionism.  I was going to write, 'put perfectionism to bed,' but that sounded too tender for this particular monster.  Murder feels right."   - Jon Acuff, "Quitter"

 Last May, I sent out several queries for my book, DOWN IN THE CREEK, and received a full request.  The agent requested to represent me, but didn't have an opening at the time.  I was told that I was at the top of the "list".  I never heard back from the agent again and when researching the company, it no longer exists.  That hurts a bit, but I had decided to possibly self-publish.  I think self-publishing is great, but I want to give traditionally publishing another chance.  I've dreamed of seeing my book in a bookstore or my library for a long time.  I don't wanna let that dream go. 

But at the same time, I'm delaying taking the leap, trying to get my query perfect.  My manuscript is finished and working with my CPs.  I absolutely love this book, more than anything I've written and I'm scared to take the leap again.  I just need to go for it.

Here's the query:  (It will be modified a little for each agent to personalize)



Dear Agent’s name,

Freedom was never worth the price that was paid.  Hundreds of children murdered with no end in sight. 

Seventeen-year-old Edom is the oldest healer in the country of Menrio where his kind are hunted and killed for their gifts. He’s a protector, guarding the life of his little sister, Liora, and any other healer he can find. King Alined is a lecherous man, intent on the slaughter of these children. After a failed rescue attempt, Edom is imprisoned by the king. 

A young woman rescues him, but in an effort to protect her from the wrath of King Alined, Edom kidnaps her.  It doesn’t take long to discover that she has a secret. She’s the princess, Dalia. She has been raised to hate healers, but after witnessing the mistreatment of the healers she decided to save him. With the Guard closing in, Edom and his friends travel through the mountains, desperation spurring them forward. Edom must find a way to save the healers or their kind will be lost forever.

NAMELESS is a YA fantasy, complete at 50,000 words.  If this book is successful, it could easily become a series.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Child, Adult, and Family Services with a minor in English.  You can find my blog at Kjmclaughlin.com. 
 
Thank you for your time and consideration. 


Any help would be appreciated!!

Do you struggle with trying to write the perfect query to delay sending them out?

22 comments:

  1. This sounds really compelling. I do have two thoughts about tweaking it slightly: lecherous guys molest not kill, so perhaps use a different term for this creepy guy? Also, you may want to put a line in about what is so threatening about healers that someone would want to kill them all.
    Good luck with your quest!

    Catherine Stine’s Idea City

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    1. How does merciless man sound? Lecherous does describe him, but it doesn't fit in the query. Thanks for your help! :)

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  2. You need to go read my blog post today, stat! Seriously, just get in there and go for it. Who knows what will happen?

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    1. Thank you Jennie! Your post was definitely helpful! :)

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  3. It sounds really good, if I was a publisher, I'd definitely publish it. Good luck, I hope to see it in a local bookshop soon ;) x

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  4. I agree with Catherine about the word 'lecherous.' I like the rest of the letter.

    Good for you for not letting the traditional pubbing dream go. Best of luck with it.

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    1. I changed it to merciless man, I think it fits better. :)

      Thanks! I've thought about giving it up, but I just can't. I've come too far. :)

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  5. The query letter sounds awesome. Just a couple of tense problems. The first sentence should read, "Freedom is never worth the price paid" (take out the extra "that" and "was") and also the word "decided" should be "decides."

    I'm with the others on the word "lecherous."

    There are a couple points of confusion for me: "Seventeen-year-old Edom is the oldest healer in the country of Menrio where his kind are hunted and killed for their gifts." Should it be "for their gifts" or "because of their gifts"? Why would anyone want to kill a healer? I was also confused about Edom - is he both protector and healer? Maybe he's a healer who self-appointed himself protector?

    Obviously the whole conflict surrounds Edom and other healers, so I want to know why the king and Guard want them dead.

    That's about all I have. Hope I'm making sense. Good luck on the query process!

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    1. Thank you Gwen, your suggestions were very helpful!! :) Thank you so much! :) I will keep you updated.

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  6. my 2c...

    'NAMELESS is a YA fantasy, complete at 50,000 words. If this book is successful, it could easily become a series.'

    I would tweak this a tad. First, 50k borders on novella. Make sure you check their word count requirements. Second, I'd change the second sentence to something like this:

    NAMELESS is a standalone with series potential.

    This not only sounds more confident ('If this book is successful' casts doubt.), but it also satisfies them no matter whether they want a single or a series. ;)

    I know not every problem can be predicted, but there are sites for checking out publishers/agents to see if they have a good record. You might check into those before querying again so you can go at it with less trepidation. Anyhow, good luck.

    IWSG #179 (At least until Alex culls the list again. :P)

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    1. Thank you, Melissa! Your suggestions were helpful too! :) I will definitely be doing my research for finding records before querying an agent. :)

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  7. I won't comment on the query letter, since others have already made some great points. I do want to give you some encouragement for taking that step.

    Querying is exhausting (says even my limited experience), and you really have to be committed to it. Making sure your MS and your query are as wonderful as possible is only good sense... you're being smart not to just jump into it.

    I read somewhere that a good way to keep your spirits up when you do start to query is to always have some "out there". Send out a couple every few days, and if you get rejections, send replacements out. That way there is always some hope. I think that's pretty good advice for keeping motivated and not overly discouraged.

    Good luck when you start, and keep us posted! You can do it!

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    1. That is a great idea to keep a few out there, sending out replacements. I will definitely do that. Querying is exhausting and I'm not really looking forward to it, but I can do this. I've got all of you guys behind me. :)

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  8. The book sounds great! Very interesting. And yes - writing queries and querying scares the pants off me!

    One suggestion. This sentence:
    She has been raised to hate healers, but after witnessing the mistreatment of the healers she decided to save him.

    Suggestion: I wouldn't say "healers" twice. Maybe "mistreatment of them" would suffice. :)

    Otherwise, I think its wonderful. The book sounds very cool! Don't give up! Go for it!

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    1. Thank you Leigh! Querying is just plain terrifying, opening yourself up for rejection isn't that fun.

      Thanks for the suggestion - that does work better!

      I won't give up. I can do this. :)

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  9. This sounds SUPER interesting. It's going to be hard, but nothing will happen if you don't put it out there. Good luck!

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  10. Thanks for visiting my blog today! I would love to chat and talk about our books. You can email me at
    inkinthebook@gmail.com

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  11. I think everyone has made excellent comments regarding your query so I will come and say thank you for visiting my blog. Am now following you here and encourage you to query! :)

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  12. I second Melissa's comment about the word count and the 'series potential'. I'm interning for a publishing house and if I see 50k for a YA novel, especially fantasy that usually runs higher, it can be a negative point. I would also clarify a bit why healers are persecuted/the princess has a bad image of them.

    Otherwise I think this definitely sounds like an intriguing story! Coincidently, my IWSG was about not giving up. It really was bad luck you had last time but you shouldn't give up and get your next work out there :)

    Good luck!

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  13. Well, I'm interested! It's true, there is no such thing as perfect, though it is great to get advice from other writers and hone the query as much as possible. Best of luck!

    Allison (Geek Banter)

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  14. Your MS sounds intriguing. However, I'd drop the first two sentences. It's unclear what freedom has to do with killing children. IMO, also make the connection between the killing of healers for their gifts and the killing of children. Is there a connection? As it stands now, your Q suggests there is but doesn't make a link.
    There are many places to get more advice, if you haven't checked already: QueryTracker, the Query Goblin, and Mindy McGinnis offers great query advice. Good luck!

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