Tuesday, June 5, 2007
THE BOOK IS FINISHED! -- WELL, SORT OF
It’s taken over five years, but I’ve finally finished my second novel, BOOBS OVER HOLLYWOOD! I should be jumping and leaping and twirling and doing cartwheels. Instead, I just want to retreat to My Beloved Sofa and cover my head with a blanket. Maybe even a wet one.
Alas, it also signals the real beginning of the work.
Now I must write this diabolical document called a Query Letter which will go to agents and/or publishers. The Dreaded Query Letter has very specific requirements: The first paragraph must hook in the reader, compel them to keep on reading. Within one sentence I have to capture not only the meaning of the entire 350-page book but I also have to demonstrate “a unique voice.” I suspect they don’t mean Fran Drescher’s voice. Paragraph 2 is a one-paragraph summary of the 350-page book. Oh sure, that’s easy. If I could have written the darn thing in one paragraph, I would have. It would have saved a whole lot of time and paper. Paragraph 3 is a bio, telling the reader why I am the only person in the entire galaxy who could have written such a masterpiece. Apparently this is not the time to be humble or modest. Paragraph 4 thanks the reader for their time and consideration and encourages them to send for additional material – like the book, for instance. ALL THIS MUST BE DONE IN ONE PAGE!
… I need to find another line of work. Perhaps hod carrier… Now, if I only knew what a hod was…
Secondly, I am required to write a 3-4 page synopsis of my entire manuscript. Strange as it seems, writing a 3-4 page synopsis is every bit as difficult as writing a one-paragraph synopsis!
…or how about shepardess?
Finally, I must check the submission guidelines of every single agent/publisher to whom I am submitting my book. Each agent and publisher has come up with their own diabolical, ridiculous set of guidelines. Some want just a query letter; others want a query letter and the synopsis; and still others want just the first page of my novel; others want to see ten pages, or three chapters or fifty pages; nobody wants to see the whole book; others would like me to do sommersaults backward through a series of flaming hoops while instructing a herd of elephants on the skills required to play the oboe; still others would like me to drop dead. And of course, I must enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope. See, you get the privilege of paying their postage so they can tell you that they want absolutely nothing to do with you. This seems to me to be the literary equivalent of pouring salt into a wound.
…maybe a sprinkler of fairy dust?
Okay, I’m ready to do a mailing. I’ve assembled The Dreaded Query letter, my synopsis, and whatever other cockamamie requirements the agents and publishers want. I also have that just-completed 350-page novel in front of me, which nobody wants to see. I assemble, collate, stuff, address envelopes and send my precious book into the world, which by now I am convinced is probably the worst book ever written in the whole history of the world. Actually, I’m not sending my precious book; I’m sending documents ABOUT my precious book.
…maybe putting the Inspected By labels into Jockey shorts?
And now I wait. And wait. And wait. When my writing partner and I wrote our first book LETTERS FROM CLEO AND TYRONE, it took St. Martin’s Press 18 months to get back to us. Good grief, I could have had two babies in that amount of time.
So, the question you must be asking yourself is why, oh why, did you ever decide to become a writer in the first place. It seems way too stressful. And it also seems you could go broke waiting for someone, anyone, to decide they want to publish you. And you would be right. Hmmm… Let me ponder this. This must be some reason I chose to be writer. Hmmm… I’ll have to get back to you on that one. Do you know anybody who needs a hod carrier? Do you know what a hod is?