At work today, I wanted nothing more than to come home and write. More specifically, I was looking forward to coming home and taking a crack at the first query letter for my YA book.
Those of you keeping track have probably realized that, while the fine folks judging the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award thought my YA manuscript was one of the best 250 they received (out of 5000), it was not one of the best 50. And while they destroyed one of the more prominent fantasies in my head these days, it was still nice to make it as far as I did.
I also got some wonderful feedback, and since I am horribly self-absorbed and in constant need of validation, I will share some of it with you:
This book has excellent pacing, and the story will sell itself to those who like suspense books. I thought the high school scenes were well written, and also think the author does a good job of describing without being overwhelming in the description.
I thought this was a compelling read. I enjoyed the pacing and the aura of uncertainty that surrounded the events of the visit to the house. I would definitely read more, and would also recommend this to my 13 and 16 year old sons.
This was a very good excerpt with all the elements being well done. The work reads well, polished and professional.
I got a longer review from someone at Publisher's Weekly, who had a few minor complaints, but in general enjoyed the book, although apparently not enough to push it along to the next round. In my defense, "Master of the House" isn't remotely dystopian, and that seems to be the flavor du jour in YA books these days.
The upside to being eliminated from the competition is that I can now start sending my book out to agents and publishers. The downside is that I don't know that I really made it far enough to brag about it in a query letter.
This is unfortunate, because query letters are evil.
I suppose, in some sense, query letters are the literary equivalent of a resume and a cover letter in one. You have a single page to say what you are selling, why it's worth buying, and who the hell you are.
Saying what I'm selling is probably the hardest part, because you basically need to lead with a hook, and more often than not an agent or publisher will decided whether or not they will keep reading based entirely upon your opening. And given the number of aspiring writers in the world, it's hard to come up with something that would be considered unique.
Talking about why "Master of the House" is worth selling doesn't pose nearly the challenge to me as it would have in the past. If you'll allow me to put on my pretentious hat for a second (the correct response to that is "wait, you mean there are times when you take that hat off?"), having a book published -- by someone other than me, no less -- has taught me a lot about what sells and what doesn't. And, let's face facts, agents and publishers want to know if what you're selling them, they can sell to others.
As for who the hell I am, well, thanks to the aforementioned published book, at least I can claim that someone out there with the finances to run a publishing company thought enough of my work to send it out to the masses. I wish I had a few more published short stories to my name, but I should be thankful for what I've gotten so far.
It's an awful lot of pressure to put on one piece of paper/e-mail, and awfully hard to write.
So here I am, doing exactly what I wanted to be doing just a few hours ago, but instead writing in this blog.