Query letters and why they can drive you insane

Since I started writing, I’ve been trying to be as proactive as possible and be involved with everything writing/editing/publishing existing in the online world. Unfortunately, I don’t have many chances to that in the real physical world, here, in my city. These are a couple of reasons:

1. There are no writing groups/courses/workshops in English.

2. The ones that exist in Spanish are not my cup of tea. Not many writers live in my location because people, unfortunately, are not much into reading (which is really sad!) But there are a couple of events if you dig really well and switch on your mafia sensors. However, it’s mostly about poetry or literary fiction. I’m not against it, but I prefer mainstream fiction; meaning thrillers, mysteries, horror, crime, espionage; exciting books that are page turners and make you lose your sleep. “Too wordy” is what comes to my mind when I attend to the spanish writing events.

www fuelyourwriting com

Image source: www.fuelyourwriting.com

Well, to my luck, we’re not limited anymore to our locations in the world. We’re global citizens, meaning I can still write in English and access all the writing training/support online. Online webinars, workshops, writers groups in social media, blogs, etc. are only a few examples. There’s a lot out there to keep you entertained until the end of our times. So whenever, I look for feedback, I do it,  here, in the web.

So the word “query letter” came almost from the beginning. It was like the defining event that would separate published writers for the non-published ones (talking about traditional publishing here). The test that would define who gets to be somebody in the vast sea of the prole (bear this with me, I’m reading a book where the word “prole” comes out every 2 seconds). But I gave it no importance from the beginning. I first had to hone my craft and write my story. Query letters would come later. Unfortunately, I’ve reached that terrified “later.” And I must be honest, I would prefer to keep writing other novels, and short stories than trying to see if my work can be publishable. But I guess, there’s no point in writing stories to keep them hidden in your desk drawer (well, in the C: drive of my computer, in this case.)

valeriekingbooks com

Image source: valeriekingbooks.com

So, time to query I said, and started to read as much as possible about it. I became fond of Query Shark (for those who don’t know, that is Literary Agent Janet Reid destroying writers dreams in her blog that critizices query letters) – Great source of learning by the way. Then, I produced my first query letter (first draft of the first attempt of the first time- oh! let’s faced it, I wrote a terrible first query letter). I posted it on writers support forums to receive the good vibes of others. (Spoiler alert: It isn’t like that, some people are rather straightforward and won’t emanate anything resembling good vibes.)

But I’m not playing good-vibe fisher, I’m actually tempting masochist waters. I knew I would receive hard critiques and I still did it multiple times, i.e. in several forums. The good part? I also received very good feedback and interest for the story.

www squareboxuk com

Image source: www.squareboxuk.com

How overwhelming is this? It’s terribly overwhelming (I love that I can use adverbs, here, in my blog freely.) You get lots of advice, lots of contradicting advice, lots of questions too! (but you can’t explain the whole story in your query letter). Most of it, is very good advice (almost 90%), but there are others you must be able to filter and scan them with critical eyes. After all, support groups are opened for everybody. However, on querying letters, you have to be careful. The concept of querying is very different from one person to another. You have to rely on your instincts. So,what did I end up doing?

I left my querying critiques resting for 48 hours. Then, I got back to them with highly critical eyes. The objective: to rescue what I thought was important and accurate. I rewrote my query letter again, and then again, and then again. It’s not ready yet; it’s resting for 24 hours more before getting back to it. This works better. You can’t create the perfect query letter on the same day. You need to step away and then get back to it with critical,rested, renewed eyes. Hopefully, I’ll have it ready soon.

Now on writing the synopsis… that’s for another post.

What do you usually do when you receive too much feedback? Do you have a method to filter what works and what doesn’t? How can you tell which is good feedback and which is not?

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