Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July 20th

As though anxiety over church was not enough, I have decided to try my hand at the "Query Letter," in preparation for sending Ceallach out in search of a literary agent.

By the way, I have tentatively decided to call that story "The Hidden Road," though this is also the title of a book published in 1922 by Wadsworth Camp. (I googled it.)

I'm also thinking of "The Hidden Road Home," which thematically fits right in, and when googled, does not immediately come up with any other books by that title. Though I'm not sure, maybe it's too long for a title.

And maybe just a little too... oh, I don't know. Soft or something. Like a signal to get out your hankies, because this is gonna be a tear jerker- one your grandmother will like. One the Hallmark channel will make into a made-for-TV movie. Heh.

From what I've seen, more than one book can have the same title, though for obvious reasons, it's perhaps not the best idea to go ahead and name your little ol' book after some literary giant.

I've have assiduously studied examples of great query letters and consequently, I feel miserably unprepared to do business in the world of publication.

The main point of the query letter is to demonstrate that you can sum up your book in two or three tantalizing paragraphs that will comfortably fit on the back of the book and lure the unsuspecting into buying it, thus making the publisher a lot of money.

So, I firmly put tongue in cheek and came up with this beauty:

"Phillipa, a reserved, eccentric college sophomore, thought it was just going to be another night of Disney movies and Mac’n Cheese when she agreed to babysit for friends of her parents. However, when she gets a flat tire, lost deep in the heart of rural New England, she discovers not just a whole other adventure, but another world as well.

The quiet, monastic life that Ceallach, a battle weary Sidhe ironsmith, had been enjoying for centuries came to an abrupt end when a lost and bedraggled human girl showed up at his doorstep late one cold, March night.

The attraction sparked between them that night proves to be irresistible; it becomes a love that is passionate, tender and humorous. But the past Ceallach thought he had put behind him soon comes calling, threatening to destroy their new found life.

Together, they must return to Tir na nOg and put the past to rest. Their fledgling relationship must be strong enough to survive not just the battlefield and the restless dead, but their private fears as well. Each step of their journey, they are haunted by the possibility that the capricious passage of time between their two worlds will wipe out the life they had just begun together."

Clearly that's four paragraphs: I'm already a failure as a writer.

Wait. I could just cut out the entire fourth paragraph except for its first sentence. I could move that up so that it becomes the last sentence of the previous paragraph.

Voila, the end.


One is not only supposed to be able to summarize one's story in two or three (preferably two- not happening) paragraphs, but also to sum it up in one sentence.

I am not joking. They want it summed up in one sentence. Here is my current attempt, though I am still really wrestling with this:

"The Hidden Road is a nuanced, unexpectedly imaginative story of two people from two very different worlds who must find the courage to create and keep a life together."

Blah. Basically, I'm saying it's a love story like all love stories. But what else can I say? That is what it's about.

Okay, so then the last paragraph of the successful query letter is the one containing your credentials as a professional writer, the awards your writing has won, your previous published works and your contacts in the publishing world.


Yeah. So, for me, that paragraph literally doesn't exist. I don't have a single one of those things. Unless my editor friend counts.

Keep in mind that this is a query letter not to a publisher, but to a literary agent. If the literary agents picks you up, then he or she must still try and get your work to be picked up by a publisher.

I've done a ton of research. My options appear to be these:

1. Submit my work to the few, the small and the quirky publishing houses that still accept fantasy novels from new authors. Suffer from poor exposure and garish cover art.

2. Find a literary agent that will help me get accepted at a more established publishing house, for ten to fifteen percent of whatever I make, once I make it. Though I may still end up being accepted, via agent, at a small publishing house, thus still suffering garish cover art, for fifteen percent less.

3. Wallow in despair.

4. Self publish and or publish on line

I'm going to go play some Guitar Rock, a platform where I know I can shine, damn it.