Monday, May 2, 2011

Q - Is "Query" a bad word?

There are certain four and five letter words I typically refrain from using in my daily language. And I don't make a habit of adding them unnecessarily to dialogue in my writing. But I swear sometimes the word "query" feels like one of those bad words! In the least, the level of insanity that invariably ensues as I anticipate a positive response from a query, makes me wish I could invent a new word to accurately express my exasperation. "Yaaaarghh!" just doesn't cut it.

Countless books, articles, blog posts, and tweets have outlined, hashed over, and revamped the "do this" and "don't do that" list of querying expertise and etiquette. They give the same basic steps and suggestions. Plenty online web sites, authors, and publishers also willingly critique actual query letters so a person attempting to write a successful one can learn from those who have failed miserably at doing so. And occasionally succeeded, as well.

This is not another post about the technical aspects of writing a dynamite query letter, who to send it to or how to do so, or what to do with your time while you wait for a reply. Nay, nay! After you've researched, written, edited, and submitted, here's what you MUST remember on your journey of finding representation: A perfect query letter does NOT equal representation! There are simply far too many other factors in the equation.

So don't let the word "query" cause you unnecessary grief or angst. Accept the fact that it's just part of the process. Embrace it...let it work for you, not against you. Sort of like giving birth requires some discomfort, pain and uncertainty. Yes, I know epidurals are an option, having a scheduled C-section eliminates actual labor pains, and every birth is different. But if you choose to give birth to your novel the good ole fashioned way, you better take a few classes on relaxation, focus, and breathing technique. You could be in for a long, hard labor! In the end it will all be worth it and you'll hold the little angel in your arms, lovingly smile in awe, and in time, completely forget the pain. Suddenly "query" becomes a thing of beauty that you instinctively cover with kisses, and you can't imagine how you ever considered using it as a derogatory word.