Friday, July 23, 2010

Query-Query Bo-ery, Banana Fanna Fo-ery . . .

Family playing board game


Yesterday, Christi Goddard likened the query process to American Idol. I’m thinking that it would also make a good board game. Imagine the little plastic pawns with laptops glued to their fingers and Hummel-wide eyes dreaming of interviews on The Today Show and red carpet movie premiers (based on the No. 1 New York Times Bestseller!).

Roll the dice and see where you land. One square might say, “Oops, you addressed your query Ms. Bransford instead of Mr. Bransford. Go back one space,” or “Congratulations, you got a partial, move forward three spaces!” What would be the endgame? When you got an agent? Or when the book sold to a publisher?

Silly as this is, the board game—or video game if you prefer—idea can be useful. Having a hard time handling rejection? Tell yourself it’s all just a dream, a bad dream. No wait. A game (a bad game). If the ghosts eat your pac man, do you feel personally insulted by your computer and mope around the house for days? (If you didn’t say no, go back four spaces.) Maybe you curse, or maybe you go grab a Ho-Ho, but if you want to reach 100,000, you hit play and keep on truckin’.

Queries are a game of chance. Your (Herculean) task is to come up with a set of words to entice the agent to ask for pages only knowing (if you’re lucky) a snippet about the agent’s likes and dislikes from their website (if they have one). It’s like buying a Christmas present for a stranger who likes Jack Nicholson. Well, fine. Do you send The Shining, Batman, or As Good As It Gets? Answer: none of the above. The agent actually likes Jack Nicklaus and wants a book on the greatest golfers of all time. What? Didn't you know non-fiction was easier to sell than fiction?

So get on your game face, and when those rejections show up—you’ll know right away because they all start “Thank you . . .”—regroup, rewrite, and keep on playing.

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