2023. A new year and a renewed drive to find that perfect . . . or any! . . . agent for my novel.
I'm not gonna lie: I had given up hope on ever getting representation for my book. Rejection letters are a fact of life for writers. Even Stephen King collected a stack of them that he spiked into his study wall. I totally get it. But so many? Ouch. According to my beta readers, DARK EARTH and its sequel WOLVES OF WINTER are enthralling page-turners. But how is an agent to know this unless I can lure them into requesting pages? I had read so many books and blogs and tutorials on how to write a gripping query letter, and then labored for countless hours to perfect my pitch, all to no avail. What was I doing wrong?
Pretty much everything, as I've recently learned.
This past November, an ad for a Path to Publishing class kept popping up on my Facebook feed. Hmmm. For $19, they offered an online course consisting of six classes, during which I'd be taught how to write a fantastic query letter. Bingo! I signed up, and a week later logged on for my first session.
Boy, were my eyes opened! Our charismatic instructor, Kathy Ver Eecke, guided us through each component of an effective pitch, including the Bonding Open ("Hey, you incredible agent, here's why you're the perfect person to rep my particular book!"); the Blurb (". . . and here's what my simply amazing book is about!"); and the Close (". . . and this is me and my stellar writing career . . . or lack thereof, as in the term "debut novel"').
She also covered a wonderful little trick called the "Sticky Mashup", wherein one uses two or three different references to describe one's book: "Imagine Flashdance set in the world of Bridgerton," or "Fifty Shades of Gray meets Mary Poppins". It's a compact hook to hopefully get the agent intrigued enough to read further.
Kathy also discussed comp titles, the books we authors list in the query that compare closely to our own. These give the agent an idea as to where our book might fit in the bookstores, and just how profitable it could be. Big whoops on my part: some of my comps were old . . . as in 1960's old! Nope, agents want to see titles that are hot now, or at most, within the last three years.
Another mistake I made was including a recommendation from my mentor, Angie Abdou. It was one helluva writeup, and I treasure it, but quotes do not belong in a query, especially since most agents allot only about a minute and a half for the author to make her case. This translates into around 300 words. That's it! Talk about needing to tighten up my verbiage!
The class was so enlightening that I joined the associated Pitch to Published private Facebook group, and what a fantastic resource it's proving to be. With access to hundreds of hours of interviews with agents and editors, I've been able to discover what they are really looking for. I've also had the opportunity to workshop my brutally streamlined new query with other writers from the group, gaining some valuable outside perspectives. In the process, I am inching ever closer to my perfect pitch, which I'll share with you below. Any feedback you'd like to offer would be hugely appreciated.
Could 2023 be the year DARK EARTH gets released to the world? We'll see . . . but it's a lot more likely now than before!
Given your interest in dystopian stories, I present DARK EARTH, a fast-paced adventure/thriller of 95K words. Think the life-or-death struggle to survive in Kristin Hannah's The Great Alone, set in the post-apocalyptic world of Emily St John Mandel's Station Eleven. My book would appeal to readers of Gone Dark by Amanda Panitch, and Kyla Stone's The Light We Lost.
When a massive solar flare destroys Earth's modern technology, Leni, an impetuous, middle-aged artist, is stranded thousands of miles from her boyfriend Nick. A survivor of previous spousal abuse, she is apprehensive of their deepening relationship, but is more frightened by the lawlessness and brutality that has taken over her town. Leaving Colorado for Nick's off-grid cabin in British Columbia, Leni hopes he will meet her there . . . that is, if he's still alive; he had been boarding a flight just before the lights went out. Fiercely independent but lacking survival skills, Leni joins forces with a diverse band of travelers, including an enigmatic man with a tragic secret.
Having survived a plane crash in eastern Canada, Nick heads toward home on a motorcycle. Resourceful and pragmatic, he knows his best chance to help Leni is to gear up at his cabin before undertaking a rescue mission south. Deeply worried about her, Nick instead focuses his protective instincts on a young boy orphaned by the disaster, and earns the unlikely protection of a motorcycle gang.
Gaining allies and battling vicious mobs, neither Nick nor Leni know if they will find each other and safe haven, or if they can even survive their odysseys through a world where people are becoming scavengers, predators . . . or prey.
This is my debut novel, a stand-alone, dual POV story with series potential. I am a member of the Writers Guild of Alberta and the Pitch to Published writing community.
Thank you for your consideration."