...and the easy thing as if it were hard. I belive Musashi said that first, in his classic Book of Five Rings. The advice came to mind as I put my helmet on and set to work on my query.
At some point in my years in the desert, querying became the part of writing that I dreaded most. For a midlist writer, I believed, the hurdles were simply too high. What name was I to use? How did I explain my 'down time'? How did I handle the career change to mystery?
By luck, I thought to take the time to flip through some of my past queries. Oh, I had my share of rejections. But I'd forgotten how often I'd gotten requests for the opening pages of past books. And some of these requests had come from established agencies. I still had a letter from Amtrak, awarding me an all-expenses paid cross-country train trip to research my third novel. But the industry has changed as much as I have as a person and a writer. What I needed to do was adapt my query style to the new work I bring to the table and the new publishing scene. So...
Do the hard thing as if it were easy. I didn't spend months or a year on the query, though I had thought about it for months. I wrote the query in a morning without a thought in my head about seducing or psyching out agents. I began with a hook far different from any other I've used: positioning my novel by referencing the juggernaut/rival that arrives in January--and telling why, imo, that project is miles off course. A brief summary of my plotline and thumbnail skectch of my lead character. Why the book is my great passion and how I came to write it. How I learned of the agent and why I am approaching him/her. All this in well under a page. Plus: the opening 5-plus pages imbedded in the e-mail, as requested.
Plan: to approach agents open to e-mail queries first. And to send these in limited batches instead of a massive blitz, since I need to stay open to feedback.
Will keep you all posted. Happy holidays!