Lamar Giles
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Your query doesn’t work because…

I got serious about my publishing career when I was 20.

I’m 30 now, and just yesterday my agent–who I signed with 2 months ago–submitted my Young Adult mystery novel to several major publishers. So, your math is right…it took me 10 years to get the right query into the right person’s hands. And, that’s just to score representation, there’s still no guarantee of a sale.

My point?

For a decade my query package (letter, sample pages, and finally, the entire manuscript) didn’t garner the results I wanted. In the beginning, I accepted the rejections I received as Badges of Honor, something every writer goes through. At some point badges became bitterness. Gone were the lofty ideas of Rites of Passage.

It became the agent or the editor’s fault. They weren’t recognizing good writing.

Their assistants weren’t trained well enough to distinguish superb from slush.

The submission guidelines were too generic so I couldn’t stand out among the other 100+ queries that arrived the same day as mine.

It was all a giant conspiracy to keep my book off the shelf…

All of that was bulls***. The truth nibbled at the back of my mind, a truth I didn’t want to admit for a long time.

My query didn’t work for two reasons: 1)I just wasn’t good enough yet. 2) Even if I was a good enough writer, I wasn’t producing salable material.

Quality writing is a must, but it must also be writing that can GENERATE MONEY.

That’s the part the New/Frustrated/Stubborn Writer never wants to think about. A publishing career is not built solely on the ability to craft beautiful prose. Agents and Editors have bills to pay, so every hour they spend with a client/acquisition must have some benefit to their bottom line. That’s not to say they don’t love words as much as you do, or that they aren’t sensitive, friendly people who love cats, and ice cream, and taking their kids to the park. But publishing is their BUSINESS.

Yours, too.

In a successful publishing career the New Writer will wise up (some, like me, more slowly than others), and begin to tailor their writing and queries towards salable. They may still be the Frustrated Writer for awhile, but will break through eventually.

The Stubborn Writer may never wise up, and will continue to write what they want (sometimes referred to as ‘write what you know’) instead of writing something that can make money.

And they’ll have more Badges of Honor than anyone…

2 Responses to “Your query doesn’t work because…”

  1. Karen Strong says:

    Hey L.R., found you on Twitter with your #writetip tweets.

    Great post. You make some really good points here. Publishing is a business and writing salable material is a must!

  2. L. R. Giles says:

    Karen, thanks for checking out the blog. I think sometimes, as creative people, us writers can forget that there’s a money side to things. It’s all important. Creativity and dollars. Anyhow, thanks again. I hope you come back soon.

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