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Author Topic: Do you remember your first time?  (Read 1852 times)
NextChapter
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« on: June 26, 2018, 11:36:59 AM »

My first query letter was for a badly written picture book that I thought was a sure-fire hit. I crafted a query letter that looked like a snail mail business letter. Yeah, I really showed my age there. And I had no idea what to say.

Looking back, I can see why nobody liked that manuscript, but at the time, I was sure it would be snapped up quickly. I researched all the pb agents, and decided on the best one for my book. Her website said the agency preferred exclusive queries for at least a month (or did it say submissions and I didn't know the difference?). Anyway, I held off on querying anybody else, just sure the agent I had chosen would be delighted to represent me. Every time the phone rang, I thought it might be her. Uh-huh, I actually thought she would call. Never happened (of course), but I was so naïve. That was only a little over a year ago.

I tried to fix what was wrong with that first manuscript, then tried to write two more picture books, sure each time that I had finally hit the right note. I queried multiple agents -- at the SAME time -- but the manuscripts were all quite dreadful. I finally realized that I had no talent for picture books and moved on.

Tell me about your first time.

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Waterfall
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« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2018, 05:07:55 PM »

Great question. My first nonfiction book, drawn from my dissertation about how teenagers use public space, was published in 2000. I went back to some of the participants from that high school, to try to understand how they were imagining adulthood now that they'd hit their early 20s and seemed stuck. (I was also stuck at that point, in my early 40s with a career and marriage in collapse; I was also engaged in the project of trying to figure out adulthood.)

I think I started to query that book as a narrative nonfiction back around 2005 or so. I actually got an agent, fairly unethical (she suggested about four times that I hire her daughter's book-doctor firm) though she did send the MS out some. One editor liked it, but he got shot down at the editorial board meeting, so it wasn't acquired. "I get this book," he said later, "but it's a hard book to get."

A couple of editors said it'd work better as a novel, but I've resisted even now making it into fiction. I feel a responsibility to the people I lived with to get that book, and I don't feel good about using their lives as a wireframe to draw over in different colors.
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NextChapter
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« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2018, 05:15:36 PM »

Great question. My first nonfiction book, drawn from my dissertation about how teenagers use public space, was published in 2000. I went back to some of the participants from that high school, to try to understand how they were imagining adulthood now that they'd hit their early 20s and seemed stuck. (I was also stuck at that point, in my early 40s with a career and marriage in collapse; I was also engaged in the project of trying to figure out adulthood.)

I think I started to query that book as a narrative nonfiction back around 2005 or so. I actually got an agent, fairly unethical (she suggested about four times that I hire her daughter's book-doctor firm) though she did send the MS out some. One editor liked it, but he got shot down at the editorial board meeting, so it wasn't acquired. "I get this book," he said later, "but it's a hard book to get."

A couple of editors said it'd work better as a novel, but I've resisted even now making it into fiction. I feel a responsibility to the people I lived with to get that book, and I don't feel good about using their lives as a wireframe to draw over in different colors.

That sounds really painful, to be so close yet to not get published. I appreciate that changing the book to fiction would have felt all wrong.
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Pineapplejuice
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« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2018, 11:20:35 AM »

My first time was similar to yours Next Chapter. I am in Australia so I researched Australian agents, found one that took fantasy ( there are about 4 that take fantasy lol ) anyway I sent off my first 50 pages in attachment and a detailed but incredibly boring, voiceless synopsis and no query letter, just a few lines in text in email. As the site didn't ask for one. Anyway I had kept this agency in mind for months while editing. I wrote their name on a piece of cardboard Blu-tacked to my wall as my To Do list. I FINALLY finished editing (  without getting ANY feedback from anyone ) and hit send.

I thought they'd be interested in reading it and it really hurt to get that first rejection 7 weeks later. I was nervous about clicking the email, then so deflated that I shed tears when I did. This rejection was in Jan I think. I was so ...uneducated on query letters, critique partners and stuff like that and then proceeded to learn all I can about how to firstly improve my query process, but then also revise better.

My book didn't have a hook. My chapters had hooks that naturally came to me  but not the first pages. I'd never given it a seconds thought. And the first pages were so overly descriptive with setting, and i just didn't know why it didn't feel right to me lol.

I'm nice and jaded now. I'm not querying right now. Sent off two a couple of months ago impulsively but now just focusing on revising. I love this site as it's helped me learn so much, by looking at other peoples queries and their first pages. The things others do right - I'm learning from that. I'm amazed by how well thought out most of these first pages are, even if the writing isn't perfect others thought about hooks and ways to engage reader.

« Last Edit: August 22, 2018, 11:23:15 AM by Pineapplejuice » Logged
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