I have one burning question that has tormented me for years:
Clearly, queries are evil inventions, the diabolical brainchildren of pissed off agents who'd reached the end of their Conrad-esque tether with generic "Please just read my book" letters, and decided to overcomplicate the process to an obscene out-of-control level that borders on criminal lunacy.
...okay, that isn't true. Apologies. I just wanted to write that and see what it looked like.
Anyway, my question is simple: Is it really true that the quality of the query AND the book is entirely irrelevant? And the only thing that matters is whether or not it can be sold? I mean, the most brilliant query letter for War and Peace wouldn't matter because no agent would offer to read it, as no agent could sell it to a publisher, right?
Or is that just a profoundly cynical, I-hate-how-marketing-and-the-masses-have-killed-art mentality?
Yeah, I have a book (literary fiction blended with historical fiction, with themes akin to those found in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and "Total Recall"), and I think it's good. But I keep coming back to my question and I worry.
At any rate, thanks for indulging me,
This is like asking if you can get a second date with the Miss Felicity Buttonweezer if you didn't comb your hair, wore last week's underpants, and chewed with your mouth open when you met her.
Yes, it's possible.
It is however not the norm or even probable.
You think I invented queries to make you crazy, and while that is true (and my fiendish plan has brought me unfettered joy at your wails of woe and hapless tears) it is also true that I too must write the Dreaded Query cause what you call a query, I call a pitch letter to editors.
And yes it is true that I have sold things by saying "read this or else" and yes it is also true that I know of a book deal that was nice and juicy that started with the pitch "this made me cry" and I also know that Barbara Poelle sometimes just waves her bottle of vodka at a chosen editor who then trundles over with a wheelbarrow of cash, but MOSTLY I spend a good deal of time writing and revising pitch letters (two hours today just in case you're wondering why I'm still in the office at 6:51pm)
In other words, none of us are spared this Fate Worse Than Death so time to get used to it.
And yes, I could sell War and Peace today just in case you're wondering.