For a year I put my heart and soul into my manuscript. I laughed with the characters, cried over the events that unfolded for them and nurtured the story through vigorous editing. When the time was right and I felt it was ready I did what any good parent does and released it to the world to stand on its own. I then got to watch it get beaten and kicked to the ground through countless rejections. Not quite the warm welcome into the literary world I had expected. I was tempted to shelter my treasured work by pulling it back in and hiding it under my bed for its own protection. ( I have had that same thought from time to time watching my kids playing with aggressive, bigger kids. I haven't done it for them either. Yet.)
The most frustrating part of the rejections of my book is that 99% of the people slamming the door in my face haven't read one word of my book. Instead they are forming their opinions on my query letter. A query letter is a one page document that has to explain the entire manuscript and draw in literary agents enough for them to request a sampling of the book. This step is mandatory because publishers no longer take unsolicited manuscripts. If you want a publisher, you have to have an agent. And if you want an agent you have to have an amazing query letter. It's a maddening process and in my opinion represents all that is wrong with our society. Then again I could just be bitter that I am on my fourth draft of my query and have JUST got it polished enough that agents are actually requesting samplings.
How good does the query have to be? Agents get thousands of query letters PER DAY! The letter has to be good enough to stand out in a crowd that large. I once read an interview with Stephenie Meyer where she said her query letter was awful. I'm sorry, but that is just as fictional as the painfully perfect Edward Cullen she created. If her query didn't have some stand out features she never would have been picked up by Writers House and Edward and Bella never would have found each other. We would live in an alternate universe where Rob Pattinson and Kristen Stewart didn't grace the cover of every magazine imaginable. (If you listen closely you can hear thirteen year old girls everywhere gasping at the horror of that thought.)
I hate the process. I imagine myself as a young Oliver Twist in short pants begging people for a moment of their time. "Please sir, would you read my book?" Humbling and belittling? Absolutely. But completely necessary. Oh, how I loathe it. Four drafts later, here's how the flingin', flangin' query letter reads;
Okay, little side note here. If a psychopathic killer asks if you want to see a trick, say no. That's the smart thing to do. I, on the other hand, responded, "Bring it."
-excerpt from THE CONDUIT
All 19-year-old Celeste Garrett wants is to head off to college and make those fun, yet ill-advised choices college kids are known for. Instead, because of a pact her ancestors made in the 17th century with a mythical creature, she has to save the world.
While normal kids are slamming energy drinks and cramming for exams, Celeste will get her adrenaline rush fighting a fire breathing dragon. She wants to meet friends in the quad to exchange lecture notes, but first she must exchange blows with a shapeshifting demon on the rooftop. Life isn't always fair for a superhero, but at least she doesn't have to do it alone. With her brother and sister as sidekicks, they alternate between saving lives and getting on each others' last nerve. Together the trio encounters unspeakable odds, mystical forces and comes face-to-face with an image that will haunt them forever-- their grandmother in a leopard print bikini.
THE CONDUIT combines action, humor, a little romance and a whole lot of girl power in this 97,000 word YA novel. Thank you for your consideration.