Sunday, December 25, 2011

It's All Greek to Me

Man, what a confusing world I seem to have stepped into. Agents, loglines, genres, publishers, queries, shredded queries (cries :'( ), and the list goes on. Here's my current crisis. I can't figure out for certain what genre my book belongs in. That sounds so lame to me. I started out wanting to write a mystery. But it just didn't turn out that way. It's funny in lots of places, and is meant to be. But not frequently funny enough to called a comedy. Maybe a romantic comedy. Chick lit. Hate that term.
A tall klutzy girl who can't seem to stay out of trouble moves back to her small hometown, adopts a 200 pound dog, bags (with apparently little effort) the most gorgeous man in town, finds a dead body (faints and nearly falls in the Erie canal), and accidentally becomes embroiled with the town's little band of drug dealers who think she knows all about them (she's clueless). What do you call that? I wish I knew. When I submitted my query to Query Shark for, uh, critiquing (read "paper shredder, suitable for recycling), realized too late that I had claimed the genre "fiction novel". Ok, redundant. An unintelligent term, for which I have no excuse. Not even gonna try. Maybe I'll try a little. All I can say is I went over the thing so much the words were all running together. And there were a whole ot of other terrible things, too. The only comfort I have is that almost every query on that website were similarly shredded. In fact, the administrator tells you right out that you usually won't get posted unless you are really terrible. The more terrible your query, the quicker it's likely to be posted. I am pretty sure I set some kind of a new record. Less than two days. The administrator gives you strict instructions, not to work on that query again for a week. So I am trying to leave it alone. I did sheepishly correct the really stupid grammatical error I made right at the beginning, wherein I failed to state whether a really important character is a boy or a girl. Heh.
I do have a friend who is a best selling YA author, and she helped me, and she didn't notice those particular things. She said she thought it was ready to go. And so it went. Oh well. Live and learn! And above all, keep going!
I want to say that I admire the bloggers who blog so much, and so much of their efforts are aimed at helping other people find agents and get published. I need to find more of you! Cause, boy I sure do need help...


  1. sorry for the typos. I have a sticky keyboard (kids) and it makes me mess up frequently. I try to catch it but don't always make it.

  2. Dare to live the dream, Jane! You will only fail when you stop trying and I know you are not going to do that so you WILL SUCCEED! It sounds like a mystery-romance to me and it sounds like it has a bit of a Carol Higgins Clark type of funny to it. So, just keep on keeping on, friend! :)

  3. Hi there! Clicked on your profile from Query Shark and wanted to share my own experience that hopefully will make you feel better (or at least give you a laugh).

    Now, there's other sites besides Query Shark that give you feedback on your query. My query (in very different incarnations) has appeared on two of them.

    Here is the first version, which appeared on Evil Editor in 2008:

    Here is the final version, which appeared on (and won) An Agent's Inbox a few months ago*:

    So, yes, we all make mistakes, even on stuff we've read over and over again. Some of us just make more humorous mistakes than others.

    Hang in there! :)


    *That was 3 years to re-write the novel, not 3 years to fix the query. I couldn't submit to An Agent's Inbox until the novel was agent-ready.

  4. My goodness, could they have gone on any longer about your typo? I know, I know, typo=bad. But everybody's a Simon Cowell. So do you have an agent now?

  5. Well, I suppose Evil Editor has to earn his name somehow. The query still wasn't good, but the typo was the most obvious thing to go after.

    Still in waiting land on getting an agent. I've had about eight full requests thus far, so keeping my fingers crossed. :)

  6. Jane, do keep at it. Sometimes, the query isn't a direct reflection of the novel as some people just aren't that great at summarizing their own stories in the most compelling way possible, BUT an agent usually decides to read sample pages BASED on that query--- very few will read the sample pages despite their hesitations because the query is a reflection of the author's writing style, voice, and ability to identify the key points of their own story. Don't be discouraged--- be encouraged to do better! And don't dwell on "the minions' opinions." Read them. Understand what they're saying. But essentially, go back to what the agent has noted, take a deep breath, and try again.

    Best of luck!

  7. Hi Jane,

    I read your query and everyone's comments and I'd like to offer you some encouragement. :)

    EVERYONE on query shark wants you to be published. Some of the critiques might sound harsh and mean, but really, everyone gives their opinion because they want you to do better and succeed and collect royalties and do what you love!

    Second, you know how you can go on and on about how great your best friend is, but when you get the question, "so, tell me about yourself?" your mind goes blank? Writing queries are similar. It's hard to sift through everything and get to the root of the story.

    Keep writing, and please, see everything as encouragement.

    And my two cents: it's chick lit (I too abhor that genre) but embrace it. Make chick lit smarter by continuing to do what you do.

    Lira :)