Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Referencing The Wrong Author

It's a new year and time to send out new queries to agents who received the old query at the start of a different new year. The characters are historical so the names have not been changed, but there's a new title and a complete rewriting of the sample chapters. Who'd remember after fourteen months, especially when agents see hundreds of queries every week?

I decided to start with three queries, to get a feel for the effectiveness of the query and/or the opening pages. To get that required feedback, I selected agents who had rejected the previous query. Of course, three agents isn't exactly the best sample size, but I could get three queries done in the short time available and something is better than nothing.

No wait, this book is most like my manuscript
If only I had not selected Michelle Brower at Folio Literary, who prefers her queries via an online form.

I hate those forms, with those impossible questions. How did I hear of her? she asks, and it's only to find those who were recommended by existing clients. Like everyone other writer querying her, I found her name in the acknowledgements of a novel. The book was a work of historical fiction and that's what I write. No one sent me, unfortunately. I can only hope that something in my novel's title is enough to get past that first barrier.

What other book is like mine? Another difficult question because I read so much that nothing really sticks. My reading is more about the craft of writing, a study of how to write an opening that gets a reader to turn the page. As for the rest, any novel is about a quest and the protagonist's journey to succeed. It could be a woman seeking Mr. Right. It could be a man doing battle with his demons, or a female fighting the strictures of society. So my novel could be compared to just about any other piece of historical fiction that features a female protagonist searching for independence from male domination.

As for the query, well, this latest one is a bit of plagiarism. Why re-invent the wheel, when there is plenty of cover flap copy out there that was written by professional marketers? My novel somewhat fit into the description of a different novel, and with a few tweaks, I had a query letter that sounded more exciting than anything I had crafted before.

The online form mocked me in its blank spaces but I was not giving up. My opening pages were compelling enough to get three other agents to ask for the full manuscript. I had something to offer.

One space after another, I clicked away on the keyboard. Name, address, phone, title. It was easy. I was flying through the form.

What book resembles mine, the blank space demanded to be filled. The one I used to create the query letter, of course. It most resembled my theme and was somewhat close in historical time.

Submit, and wait.

Only to realize after hitting the submit button that the book most resembling mine should have been RODIN'S LOVER by Heather Webb. Heather Webb, who is represented by Michelle Brower.

The rejection should be following shortly.

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