Recently, I came across a blog post written by agent extraordinaire, Mary Kole, from way back in 2011. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, Mary wrote that “she’s not going to reject [a query] outright for misspelling my name.” She continues by stating that she always reads the sample and is never going to offer representation based solely on one’s query-writing skills. Her final thought is that if you do make a mistake, panicking and sending fulsome apologies makes a mountain out of a molehill and draws far more attention to the original mistake than the mistake itself.
Whew! What a relief!
Seriously, though, it was a timely reminder. I’ve been obsessing over my query – and those all-important first fifteen pages – for some time now. The upside? I’m sure I have no mistakes. The downside? Well, I , uh, actually, you see, haven’t sent out A SINGLE QUERY. Now I may not be offered representation if I have mistakes in my query letter, but I sure as shootin’ won’t be offered representation if I never SEND the darn queries out. Time to get off my rear and get my queries in gear. Mary’s words blew away at least some of my clinging webby worries. It’s time to review my query letter, personalize it, and send a few on their merry way.
Not to mention time to submit my work for critique at NJ-the SCBWI Summer Conference 2013! If you’re planning on attending, the drop-dead date for registration and submission is Tuesday, April 30th. I’ll be applying Mary’s philosophy for this submission, too. Not that I have mistakes in my first fifteen pages – but rather get it out the door! Perfection is not possible – so instead of re-hashing and re-writing and driving myself more than a little crazy, I’m taking a deep breath and submitting. Worst that happens? I take in the criticism, agree with them, and ask Mr. Agent or Ms. Editor if they’d care to take a second look once I’ve revised according to their critique.
And last, but not least, please take a gander at curmudgeonly Will Manley’s column about graphic novels. As a librarian, I’ve noticed that graphic novels have become the heart’s desire for more and younger readers – thanks, Jeff Kinney. While the focus of Will’s column is on high school students, the points he makes are applicable to all grades. I’ve long been a proponent of the theory that if you can get a child to read something, anything, you can often get them reading so much more. Perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at my young patrons’ reading habits – got to love circulation reports from your online catalog! – and see if that’s at all true. Are kids moving on from the comic books? And if not, is that truly a bad thing? I’d much rather hand a child Jane Yolen’s Foiled! than a derelict copy of, say, The Secret of the Old Attic. (Sorry, Nancy. I loved you as a kid, but as an adult, you make me cringe.) Either way, the impact of graphic novels and multimedia on children’s reading is significant.
Enough chatter! Time to get back to that query letter.