Querying literary agents is a lot like writing a letter to Santa Claus. You employ youthful optimism in the initial letter writing process, filled with hope that all of your wishes will come true.
This, of course, is done under the assumption that Santa Claus actually exists. We’ve heard stories of writers who have been signed, so we know that the impossible does happen. Even though we’ve never seen a lit agent up close in the flesh, we know that, like Santa, they do exist on some magical plane.
So we write and hope for the best.
Until we get rejections. Form rejections. Some even written by their little worker elves. So after all of our hard work, we feel dejected.
There are so many things I wish I could write in a query letter to literary agents, but of course there is a level of professionalism expected by writers. So instead of writing this crap in an actual query letter, I’m choosing to get out my frustrations here on my blog, a safe haven.
NOTE: This letter is pure fiction. I would never in eleventy billion years send a letter like this to an agent, despite my primal desire to do so. This is pure parody. A joke.
Potential lit agents, if you’re reading this, know that I LOVE YOU and appreciate your whole process UNCONDITIONALLY. Please don’t leave me. I’m too weak to endure more rejection.
Usually right here I have a hook — a short, punchy introduction to my main character and what will drive his story arc, but instead I insist on this plea: Before you reject me with a form response about how you just “didn’t connect” to my premise or that this project “isn’t right” for you at this time, open up your mind and take a chance. In the submission guidelines [either written on your personal website or on your agency’s website], you requested the first 5-10 pages. Well, FYI, my complete manuscript is 250 pages and a lot of crap happens post-page 10, so I think your page request requirements are a little bogus … though I do understand that your job entails a LOT of reading of unsolicited material. Still, I’m damn talented, so I’m going to attach more pages so that you get a better idea of what I’m capable of so that you might be truly able to love me.
Because you have to love me, ok?
My Book Title is a contemporary young adult novel — with a word count of 70,762 — that could sit comfortably on bookshelves alongside Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg and Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillians) by Laurie Boyle Crompton, but really, I’m only putting comp titles in so that you have something to compare it to. I know the chances of you having read both of those might be slim, but they’re probably the only titles I can adequately compare my book to, mostly because I think my book stands on it’s own. Synopsis Here [Sorry blog readers, I’m still all sorts of superstitious about divulging sensitive information about my book on my blog, lest anything that came from the depths of my heart and soul and imagination be stolen by pirates. Or aliens. I hear aliens steal things.] See what I did there? I made it universally relatable so that you might find something to relate to. I mean, that’s what readers are looking for, right?
Let’s be honest for a second, though: Half of the books that I see on store shelves that I pick up and flip through just made me go: “THIS person got an agent? This book was published? And I’m still un-agented and unpublished?”
I get it. It’s a subjective process. But some of these books are about as interesting and original as Oscar Mayer turkey on Wonder Bread without condiments to mask the unoriginal banality in taste. Don’t you want something that breaks the sparkly vampire, can’t-live-without-a-man, Gossip Girl redux books?
Wouldn’t you rather just sign me than a (metaphorical) turkey-on-Wonder-Bread sandwich? Ok, enough about you, let’s talk more about me, because I’m awesome and you need to sign me. Here’s what you need to know: After graduating from Ithaca College with a BA in writing in 2008, I furthered my education with an MFA in Writing for Children from The New School in 2011. There, I studied the craft of writing from accomplished authors like Sarah Weeks and David Levithan. During my thesis semester, I worked extensively on My Book Title with my advisor, executive editor at [Insert Publishing House here], [Insert Advisor’s Name]. In my official evaluation about My Book Title, she said, “Steven captures the emotions and speech patterns of his characters wonderfully and has worked to make all of them feel truly three-dimensional. He has crafted an emotional plot that gives the story real narrative tension, and has interwoven a few powerful subplots that feed into the main story.” DON’T I SOUND FUCKING AWESOME?
BASICALLY: I’m so qualified. I totes know what I’m doing. You should take a chance on me, otherwise this entire letter means nothing more than when Damien sang Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” in Mean Girls and somebody through a shoe at him mid-chorus.
Do you really want to be the person who throws a metaphorical shoe at a young, talented aspiring writer? Don’t you want to sign the writer with the book that has a lot to add to the literary world? My book is seriously TheBomb.com. Promise!
I would be happy toPLEASE LORD ask me to send any additional materials, including the complete manuscript or a breakdown of current works in progress, at your request. I appreciate your consideration and hope toI BETTER hear back from you soon because I simply cannot handle the waiting game — it’s like Chinese water torture. A quiet, empty inbox gives me severe anxiety, so do us both a favor and place me on the top of your mountainous pile of query letters and give me priority, k? Bottom line: we need each other.
We really do need each other, AGENT.
I need you, as much as I hate to admit that. So please, need me back.