So, last Friday I submitted a query letter for my completed manuscript of Martyrs to a query-review contest for New Leaf Literary and Media, Inc. You can read the submission guidelines here, but basically you send them your query letter and they tell you exactly why they reject it. No form letters saying, “We are sorry, but we don’t feel connected enough to your work to represent it at this time.”
(Of course, unless they like my query, in which case they’ll request for more of your work. Considering the agent conducting this contest is Suzie Townsend, I would be very, very, very happy if that were the case. If Suzie Townsend wanted to rep my work, I’d probably pass out for a good three days. She’s one of the “Ryan Goslings” of agents. Okay, this is getting creepy. I’ll stop now.)
Anyway, this contest is super cool because it will show me exactly why my query is getting passed up, which means I can fix it! Your query letter is your very first foot in the door with getting your work into the hands of an agent, and without an agent, you’re pretty much SOL in the traditional publishing world. It will be a great experience.
Oh, and I should mention that I haven’t really slept since I submitted my letter last Friday.
You know, nerves and all.
Because this is Martyrs and Suzie Townsend we’re talking about here.
Writing is terrifying. I’ve had people ask me how I keep doing it, because it scares them so much that they don’t even want to risk it. They’re so afraid of failure that they don’t try at all. “How do you get over it?” I hear it all the time.
Put simply, I don’t.
I just slap a piece of duct tape over that annoying little voice and trek on. I wrote a blog about this before my old site crashed, essentially saying “screw that.” The cold truth is, it is hard to make it as an author. It’s hard to get picked up by an agent. It’s hard to make sure your book sells. It’s hard, but no one said it was impossible, and the only reason it will ever be impossible is because you didn’t try at all.
To be completely honest, this is kind of how I feel about life in general. If you aren’t doing something that doesn’t absolutely terrify you on some level, whether it’s falling in love or starting your own business or just learning how to play the piano in a class with five-year-olds, you’re doing something wrong. Life is about passion, and if you don’t have passion for something, what’s the point?
Now get out there and start writing (or piano-playing or love-making or business-starting)!
That being said, I expect to spend the next week or so with an IV filled with coffee feeding caffeine directly into my bloodstream until I get the results on my query letter back. I’ll let you know how this turns out.