Friday, August 21, 2009

My Writing Life: The Curious Rejection of Tom Kepler’s Query Letter

“I am intrigued by your novel synopsis and I look forward to reading it.”

Thus spake the acquisitions editor of the independent publishing company Turner Publishing. Based on the positive response (as opposed to sending a “cold” query based on internet research), I had sent on July 22 my query letter the publishing company, seeking publication of my fantasy novel, The Stone Dragon.

About three weeks later, I received the following reply: “Thanks for sending us the info on your book. We have reviewed it and it isn't a project we are ready to move forward with. It isn't necessarily a reflection of the work and we do really appreciate your taking the time to send it.”

On the pass/fail scale, my novel was politely failed. Looking at the novels currently in print by the company, my novel would have been a step in a new direction, and , for whatever reason, the company decided in the negative.

The acquisitions editor at least contacted me with a polite comment—and did send information that could be helpful, a website containing information on other publishers. This is not common, and I am grateful.

What now?

I have just sent out four more query letters to literary agents. They are called “multiple submissions.” Through networking, I have been fortunate to be able to gain the endorsement of an author who has published novels and received awards, so I was able to include a short quotation praising my work from this author.

The organization of my query now includes the following:
  • Hook: including “Dream magic is the most dangerous of magics because it is so difficult to control….”
  • Author Reference: "…The Stone Dragon pulls the reader in right from the start.”
  • Direct quotation from the novel: “Like the tightening coils of a constricting serpent, an awful knowingness encircled Glimmer….”
  • Information about the novel: “I have written a 97,000-word "consciousness-based" fantasy novel, The Stone Dragon….”
  • Information about the author: “I am a career English teacher and also teacher of the Transcendental Meditation Program….”
  • Closing: “Would you like to see The Stone Dragon manuscript?”

I now plan to research literary agencies and independent publishers and continue sending out a couple of queries a week. I also intend to ask through my LinkedIn connection whether or not it is acceptable to submit two queries to a single agency: a young adult novel query to one agent and a fantasy novel query to another. I have a feeling probably not….

Wish me luck!

Copyright 2009 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


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