Multiple Submissions, Multiple Masterpieces
It’s not enough that I’ve written a great novel; now I have to compose a brilliant, mesmerizing, self-aggrandizing, and succinct document – the all-powerful, one-page marvel called a query letter. And as soon as I’m done with it, I have to turn around and do it all over again.
The super-helpful literary agent I talked to last week (who passed on my book but gave me lots of advice) encouraged me to shop my manuscript around, widely and simultaneously. You should contact thirty agents and publishers at once, she said. The only problem is that if every hopeful and industrious writer is getting this same advice (and they are), there’s a flood of submissions out there (and there are). The only way to swim rather than sink is to ace the query letter, each and every time. Multiple submissions, sadly, means the writer must generate a masterpiece with each and every query letter. Boilerplate copy just will not do.
Pumping out an original and masterful query letter time after time requires unflagging energy, the brainpower to compose a freshly original letter each time , the ego to continue believing you’re really as amazing as you say you are despite contrary evidence that most of your efforts thus far have resulted in naught, and the courage and resilience to continue in spite of it.
I have lots to say about “Venus on Mars,” but I’ve said most of it already. I’ll spend two,three hours refashioning the same thoughts into a glitzy new package and then once I’ve sent it out, immediately I have sender’s remorse about what I should have said.
I ordered the book my non-agent (but the closest I’ve gotten to having one) says will help me – Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers Editors and Literary Agents. I never heard of this Jeff Herman, but I’m willing to give him a chance. It’s more-than-a-thousand pages lists publishers big and small and literary agents, and includes rousing how-to essays (on the topic of the query letter he suggests, “write one that sizzles.”)
Skimming through its entries, highlighting the ones that seemed promising brought me full circle when I came upon this what-we-are-looking-for listing:
“literary fiction…historical fiction, new fabulist and literary speculative fiction…popular science…women’s issues…”
Right-on accurate!!! That describes my work, without a doubt!!!
It was the agent who’d just rejected me.
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