After writing a novel the hard part of being an author comes in, selling the novel, to do that you have to be able to handle rejection. My first novel “Invasive Thoughts” got rejected by over 200 agents before being accepted by PublishAmerica. I’m hoping that will be a personal record and is reflective of the fact I didn’t know how to write a good query letter. However even authors with good query letters for novels that have gone on to be best sellers have been known to get 80 rejections from agents.
For the current novel I’m trying to sell, “The Setting Earth” I’m taking a much different approach, I’m sending out one personalized letter a day to agents. So far the rejection letters I’ve gotten have been faster and not just the standard form letter. The best rejection I’ve gotten has been from Janet Reid, She even put my query letter up on her blog.
To start my query letter I looked over her blog to find the things she likes and dislikes in a query letter and wrote it from there.
This was my full intro:
I’d like to say that I am looking for an agent to represent JD Salinger's inside account of the story behind the headline, “The Pope Elopes”. I’d like to say that, but in reality I am looking for representation for my fully finished and carefully edited 65,000 word Science Fiction novel “The Setting Earth”.
It addresses a major problem I see in most books published today, there aren’t enough books with my name in the byline.
You will see that it has a lot of similarities with the Bible as it involves people, places and events. Hopefully because of these similarities it will move as many if not more copies.
The very next day I got a wonderful reply:
ok, this is hilarious in the extreme but what the hell are you doing with
And you need a website...like yesterday. Darrel Nelsons who are DEAD come up
on google before you do (NOT a good thing!)
I KNOW you can write, because this query is funny, but you're making some
There's a blog about queries called queryshark.blogspot.com
It should help you get this into better shape. First, start with the main
character, not the setting.
This is probably not going to be a good fit for my non-SFF list, but
you're clearly talented.
Thanks to her personal letter I can fix some of my beginner mistakes, like not having my name, Darrell B. Nelson, anywhere on this blog.
I also reworked my description of the novel to talk about the main character first.
Naturally the best response to a query letter would be, “Send me the full manuscript.” But getting a personalized letter like this is close.
It’s really great to have a professional point me in right direction as far as what to put into a query letter.