Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Querying 2011 vs. Querying 2013 (1)

As some of you may or may not know, I just started playing the querying game with my latest project, a novella entitled A Shadow Warrior's Redemption. And as a semi-seasoned veteran of this particular game, playing it the 2nd time around seems to be a whole lot easier (if not less aggravating) than it was playing it the first time.

Playing the querying game is a lot like playing a board game. The first time you play a board game, half of your time is spent playing it in fits and starts, while the other half is spent with nose buried in the "How To Play The Game" booklet. But the second time around (and beyond), it becomes easier, simply because not only have you learned the rules, but now you know which ones to follow and which ones to discard.

So for the next couple of weeks, I thought I would do a comparison on my version of the querying game, specifically what I learned and did in 2011 and what I plan on doing for 2013.

For starters, let's compare the two manuscripts that were and is part and parcel to the querying game.

1} Line 21: Started writing it Super Bowl Sunday 2010 and finished the final draft by spring 2011.

2} A Shadow Warrior's Redemption: Started writing it in 2009 and finished the final draft in 2013.

Now on the surface it looks like that I spent some 4 years writing ASWR, but in actuality, I spent about the same time on ASWR as I did on Line 21. The initial draft took me about two to three months to write, while the remaining nine months that were spread out over four years, were spent editing, tweaking, tightening and ultimately completely rewriting the novella into a high glossy finish.

The Query Letter

Because I really had no idea on how to properly write and format a query letter, it took me almost three months to create the one for Line 21. Two thirds of the time was spent coming up with a hook and a mini-synopsis for the letter, while the remaining one third was spent in researching what it took to write and format a query letter.

As for ASWR, it was much easier. Since the plot was pretty much straight forward (revenge) and the length was ridiculously short (18,900+), it took only a couple of days to create both a hook and a killer sub 80 word synopsis for the query letter.

Another thing that made the 2nd letter much easier to write, was that I had the first one to use as a template.

About the only thing that was consistent with each was the author's bio.

The Synopsis

The synopsis for Line 21 was, if you pardon my bluntness, a major bitch to write.

Because again I had no clue or idea on how to write one, I had to troll and cull from the World Wide Web, information that showed me how to write a decent synopsis. I won't bore you with the details of where I got it from or how it should be written, because frankly I don't quite remember where I had pulled all of my info from.

However, I will say that my first attempt a synopsis resulted in a 2,000+ word/8 page monstrosity that did everything for my ego but zero in making me stand out. After printing it out, I sat down an using the short story mentality that I had tucked away, pared that bad boy down to something a hell of lot more manageable, which you can read here (note, it is on my adult blog, so you may not be able to access this from work).

Overall, it took me about two and a half months to write this synopsis.

Now the synopsis for ASWR, while it didn't take two months to write (it took about a week and a half), had its own brand of difficulty.

Most writer guides state that a synopsis has to be writing in the 3rd p.o.v., regardless of the p.o.v of your novel. But what if your p.o.v. is 1st person/present tense, then what do you do?

If you're unlike me, you write the synopsis in the 3rd and hope for the best. However, if you're like me and enjoy having a challenge for your writing, you write the synopsis in almost the exact same p.o.v. I say almost, because whereas ASWR was rewritten in the present tense, the synopsis was written in the first person narrative. If you're slightly confused, the best example I can come up with is this blog post, which is written in the first person narrative.

Because I already had a basic idea on how to write a synopsis, and by using my synopsis as a guideline, this one took me about a week or so to write, and that includes the time it for editing as well.

Up next, part 2


  1. I've had lots of projects that finally got finished after long gaps. I don't worry about those gaps anymore.

  2. Less than 80 words would be a real challenge. I take longer to describe my day! I thought you did a really bang-up (good) job on the Line 21 synopsis, btw.

  3. Charles: I don't worry much about gaps either, although my main fear is not being able to remember the plot when I happen to pick it up after a long hiatus.

    M: Thankee.

    The mini-synopsis was surprisingly easy to write, which was directly due to the fact that it was a novella and not a novel.

    Even though it was broken up into 7 mini-chapters, it was still easier to remember than the novel.

  4. Queries give me the shakes, G! It's the only thing about being a professional writer that I well and truly detest.

  5. A definite challenge - I admire you for doing it.

  6. Talon: I would have to agree with you. The first time around, part of the procrastination was directly due to the fact that I was very hyper-sensitive to having my work rejected.

    2nd time around it won't be too bad, simply because I've developed a thicker skin and a more open mind.

    Lynn: Thanks.

    Pursuing your dreams is never easy.

  7. I arrived back in NY and Line 21 was waiting for me in a clump of mail. Thanks, G.

  8. David: You're more than welcome. Hope it meets to your satisfaction.

  9. What makes queries tough I think is knowing it needs to sell for you, or you don't get anywhere.

    I hate doing the selling. That's why folks get agents...

  10. Snaggle: My personal opinion on agents is that they're narrowly focused on about three genres (YA, chick lit/romace, and mystyer/thriller), which makes it difficult for people who write in the other dozen or so genres out there to land an agent.

    As for me, I'm approaching the querying process like I was applying for a job, and I'm concentrating exclusively on publishers this time around.


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