The Peaceful and Just revision page #150
Yesterday I sent out my two query letters. First I rewrote the prologue, changing it into a chapter (because prologues are unnecessary) and trying to flesh out some of the more difficult concepts of my fantasy: where Malvada is, how it came to be, what the empties are, who the pallbearers are, what the wards are, and why the Teilarata and the Ars Memoriae hate each other. I think it answered questions that readers might not understand, and still makes for compelling reading, even, dare I say, being more interesting for an agent, since that is the first thing I send to them and it’s the part they might read. I was pleased with it. I sent it out as part of my query letters. Then something happened to me that hasn’t happened before.
I got rejected yesterday night. Yep. That’s right. It was a same-day rejection. One of the agents read my query on his iPhone and sent me his standard message saying that’s not for me. Now, I’m not angry about that. It was actually nice that he read it, and nice of him to respond. I’m just amazed at how fast it happened. Now I have this picture in my head of agents looking through their email, going eeeny-miney-moe, and pressing the button that says SEND POLITE REJECTION.
It just makes me think. What is the point of all these query letters? Is it a chicken and egg situation? That is, I’m continually revising and working on this thing, and sending out my letters. So my letters and my book should both be getting better. At some point, do the scales tip in my favor? Does all of my work suddenly add up into a query that jostles the agent’s eyes enough that he/she chooses to hit the SEND MORE MATERIAL button? Or does word get around between them, hey, I’ve seen this idea before, it’s kind of tickling my fancy, this kid has sent out a few hundred of these things, maybe it’s time to give him a shot? Or, option three, is there no chance of ever getting an agent with query letters, and I need to start meeting people and going to writer’s conferences, because all of these agents really only book artists who they have met over drinks with friends? If that’s the case, what’s the point of query letters at all?
I guess it’s just a mystery to me. What happens in their minds and in their jobs is alien to me, and I just have to keep trying to make my stuff better, and keep working at getting it into their hands. I just want to know what the magic bullet is. What’s the one sentence that will make the agent on his iPhone look up from his coffee and go: “Hmmm . . . got a live one here.” I’ll keep searching until I find it. It’s all I can do.