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Continually trying to answer the question...can a man of few words write a successful novel?

I'm a Mystery/Thriller/Suspense writer from small town USA who struggles everyday to balance my passion for prose against the need to be a full-time bread winner. Finding ways to devote more time to my writing is the challenge, but for now all I can do is follow this tug at my heart to wherever it leads. I'm here primarily to soak up all the knowledge I can from the writing-centric blogosphere, but I'll do my best to contribute by thinking of new and innovative ways to churn the writing pot.

Monday, August 29, 2011

An Open Letter To My Agent



Dear Mr. or Ms. Agent,

I can't address you by your proper name yet because we haven't officially met, but I know you're out there somewhere.  I'm as sure of this as I am of a setting sun in the west or the beauty of a newborn child.  When we do meet I'll probably read you this hokey letter and we'll laugh about it, then you'll point out my grammatical errors and chastise me for the weak paragraph structure.  I'll be so juiced that I'll just nod my head incessantly like one of those bobble-head toys, unable to wipe the stupid smile from my face.

We haven't connected yet because I'm still finding my way through this maze of a process designed to bring us together.  I've been spending hours upon hours scouring the database of QueryTracker and AgentQuery, or turning the pages of my well-worn Writers Market, searching for your agency's name and jotting down submission guidelines.  My query letter has been tweaked more times than Joan Rivers and the version number on my synopsis is approaching triple digits.  Whoever thought that the same skill set that served us so well while writing our manuscript should prove useful in boiling 300+ pages down into a couple of paragraphs, is frankly confused.  I feel like a college student who's been studying algebra all year long and the first question on the final exam has to do with organic chemistry.  But I'll continue to plod away, confident that I'll finally find the right collection of thoughts to jell into a coherent letter and then wait for that special day when the planets align and you click on my e-mail.  It's then that you'll first feel a tug of interest as you read about my story, and just as you're about to habitually reply with a standard form rejection, you'll pause.  Unable to put a finger on why, you'll feel compelled to read my first chapter a second time and your interest will deepen into genuine curiosity.  You'll need to read more.  The requested partial will only further stoke your interest and as soon as you ask for the full manuscript, that's when I'll have you.

After finishing my novel you'll realize you've discovered a slightly flawed project with a HUGE amount of potential.  An adult Mystery/Suspense that I've been told is in the same mold as Suzanne Collins Hunger Games, a fast read that trades purple prose and nauseating detail for an intriguing storyline and fresh characters that resonate long after the final page is turned.  The commercial possibilities and ways to promote it will be endless, after all, every one of my friends tell me they would pay money for my book.  Have you stopped laughing yet?  More importantly, they'd pay more money for the next one.   You see, a vote of confidence in this book is actually a future sale of two (or more).

But I understand you're not going to be 100% sold just yet because although the material is a large part of a successful partnership, the synergy has to be there as well.  That will lead to the phone call where you'll size me up and gauge our rapport.  You'll be pleasantly surprised to learn that I'm slightly older than most of the other aspiring authors you've been interacting with and confess to being willing to exchange youthful exuberance for mature ebullience.  I'll brag about the modest following my blog has accumulated and might even mention that Rachelle Gardener tweeted about it once. Then I'll warn you about my introversion and oftentimes debilitating shyness, but quickly counter by pointing out I never have a problem discussing topics near and dear to my heart...such as my writing.  That's when the conversation will drift back and forth between my book, the vision of where I see my future as a writer heading, and your ideology as an agent.  Our chat will last for almost an hour, but we'll both have made up our minds in the first five minutes.

I SOOOO look forward to spending hour after hour on the phone with you discussing the book, listening to your suggestions and agreeing to changes we both find necessary to lift it to where it must be.  I can't wait to see that final version the two of us will craft together and send out to publishers so they can experience what we both believe it possesses. Wings!

So, I know you're weary and that slushpile of query letters is more backed up than a three-hundred pound man following a twelve hour trans-Atlantic flight, but I need you to stay on top of your game.  I can't afford for you to wake up on the wrong side of the bed the very day my email jumps to the top of your queue.  I'm counting on the fact that you'll look past the fact that I put the genre and word count in the first paragraph (or the last) and concentrate less on the technical appropriateness of my query and focus on the heart of the story.  That's where you'll find me.

I'll be right here...waiting...patiently.

Sincerely,
DL

PS.  I hope you'll notice that this post, like my blog, like my query letter, strives for subtlety by saying something about me...without saying much about me.  That is to say that despite my tongue being planted firmly in cheek, my eye is on the target.  If your unable to see that, then maybe you're not my agent after all.  

21 comments:

  1. Best line in this whole damn post: My query letter has been tweaked more times than Joan Rivers.

    I'm glad to be back on your blog and see your letter. I'm thinking I should write one of my own, however I think it might be slightly longer than yours. I also don't want to psych myself out considering this thursday is my first day querying.

    Awesome world, here I come.

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  2. heeheehee! too cute!
    i'm with jen about the joan rivers line!

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  3. DL, you'll find an agent. Or a publisher! Just don't give up.

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  4. You haven't been to many conventions, have you? Then you might discover you aren't the oldest one out there writing! That's one thing that really shocked me.

    I firmly believe if you don't give up, you'll get that agent. If you don't give up, you'll get published. One day it will happen for both of us!

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  5. Definitely admire you for your keep on truckin' attitude. I liked your letter (although new born is one word, silly). I'm rooting for you!

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  6. I've thought these same things about my future agent too- imagining that shapeless face reading and connecting to my work, the phone call, the shared vision. Thanks for putting our hopes into words!

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  7. Haha! This was great. Thanks for the humor this morning. I'm thinking I should write one of these myself...

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  8. The Joan Rivers line totally cracked me up!! Great letter :)

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  9. LOL - that was funny! Can't win if you quit, so don't quit.

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  10. I firmly believe with all my heart that this go 'round you WILL land that faceless agent.

    Joan Rivers! You're such a bad boy.

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  11. Fun letter! Perhaps once you land that agent, you'll have to write your open letter to your editor.

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  12. Bwahahahah! Loved the Joan Rivers thing. Good luck DL. Can't wait to hear all about your new agent one day soon.

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  13. I loved your letter to your would be agent (whoever he is). I am hoping the two of you meet soon and can have a face to face conversation :)

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  14. This made me laugh. My favorite line, "So, I know you're weary and that slushpile of query letters is more backed up than a three-hundred pound man following a twelve hour trans-Atlantic flight, but I need you to stay on top of your game."

    Dang, you're creative. Someone's going to be elated when they snatch your manuscript out of the slushpile.

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  15. aww! This made me smile. Then it made me a little sad because i feel the same way and we're not there yet. But then i stopped being sad, so everything turned out OK

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  16. bleah. This part of the process can be so hard and frustrating... it's good practice for going on submissions~ ;o)

    geaux tigers! How do you like your duck? ;p

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  17. Enjoyed your open letter to an agent. Don't give up, you'll find one. Have a great weekend!

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  18. LOL! DL, I realized today it's been a looong time since I've stopped by here and I'm so glad today is the day. I love this letter cuz it says everything I'm thinking. Seriously, I could've written the same exact letter. And I was just thinking yesterday, how cool it's gonna be finding the right agent and thinking of all the slush WE had to go thru to get there. It should all be worthwhile. We'll laugh about it some day and I'll say "cheers" to your agent and you'll say cheers to mine. Til then keep writing! :)

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  19. Just came across this. I love it! I completely agree with the other comments about the Joan comment... priceless. You WILL find your agent one day, sit down with him/her, read this letter togther and laugh your asses off! Keep the faith, it's all we can do. :)

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