Querying Again


Well, I probably ought to get back to talking about my writing career, rather than turn people off with my political views.

I'm back to sending out queries for SWEET REVENGE with my latest updated query letter. Actually, I think it's pretty good -- if I might say so myself. It's patterned after agent Kristen Nelson's "Perfect Pitch" exercises. I’ve sent out several new queries, plus I’ve decided to status-query some agents who haven’t responded after three months. I still haven’t gotten any bites, just a few more rejections, but I have to realize my novel is not like most young adult novels. It’s more involved, not cutesy like a lot of young adult novels. It’s what I call a romantic/suspense. It begins with a tragedy and ends with a tragedy, though happily. In a lot of ways, it might even be considered literary in that it is character driven more than plot driven, and the main character experiences an important change at the end.

One potentially good bit of news, however. I entered SWEET REVENGE in a contest sponsored by a small publishing company and as a result was asked to send in a short synopsis and two chapters. However, it may take this editor some time to respond. She says on her web site that she’s buried in her slush pile, in effect, and won’t be able to respond for a couple of months. So, I will learn patience.

Just so my faithful readers (all 1 or 2 of you) will have a better idea of what my book is about, here’s an abbreviated (I've cut some of the kiss-up language) copy of my latest query letter:

Dear Agent/Editor:

I am seeking representation for my 68,500 word young adult, romantic suspense novel, SWEET REVENGE.

Mark Wilkerson was popular in his old school. He sang, danced, and played several musical instruments, often with his family, until on Christmas Eve, on the fog-bound Carquinez Bridge, he loses his family in a fiery automobile crash. If only the last words they shared hadn't been spoken in anger he might be able to move on, but Mark's depression, guilt, and his need to be accepted in a new town and new school are only overshadowed by his building rage against the unknown driver who caused the accident. At the funeral, he vows revenge, if he ever discovers the driver’s identity.

Mark meets and falls in love with Genie Lombardi. But she has a jealous, low-life boyfriend, Jeff Marino, who vows vengeance of his own. When Mark finds evidence that Jeff might be the driver who caused his family’s accident, his need for revenge leads him toward a new tragedy that could prove even more disastrous than the loss of his family.

In a genre similar to novels by S.E. Hinton, Sharon Draper, and Ellen Hopkins, SWEET REVENGE, is set in a small northern California community during the mid-1960s when the Vietnam War was escalating. Having grown up in the community where this story takes place, I’ve drawn on reports of suicides and multi-car pile ups on the Carquinez Bridge to help inspire elements of this story.

I’m hoping this letter will eventually illicit a positive response. Here's to not holding my breath -- (takes in sharp, deep breath).
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About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Thursday, June 26, 2008

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... our politicians in Washington? I'm still shaking my head. After President Bush's great appeal for common sense, you'd have thought someone in the Democrat party would have had a prick of conscience. Oh, no. In the words of Maxene Waters, "We want to socializ... er, uh, uh, er ....." In effect she said, we want to take over the industry and run it ourselves.

Have you ever heard of the federal government running things more efficiently than the private, capitalist, free enterprise sector. The feds don’t have any incentive to be efficient. They only want the profits. They could care less about what it does to you and me - i.e. higher prices, shortages, dependence on foreign, unstable governments for our energy demands.

Personally, I’m darned angry, and I know I’m not alone. I hope my representatives and senators know that. I think they do, but what of those of other states?


As for my querying, I have gone over the query letter again and with the help of some great on-line friends, I think I’ve made some major improvements. So, yes. I’m sending it out again.

By-the-way, I got a request for a partial (synopsis and first 3 chapters) from a small publishing house. Here’s not holding my breath (takes in sharp breath, hold it and turns blue).
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Okay, back to a writing-related post.

I've been pondering the above question for some time now. Actually, I totally intend to keep querying. What I'm really asking is, should I keep querying using the same query letter or revise it - again?

Here's the background. So far, I've sent out 26 queries to agents, via email, using roughly the same query letter, tweaking it slightly at times. So far, I've gotten back 14 rejections, most form letters, but a few seemed like nice personal notes. All were polite, friendly, and encouraging. A couple even asked me to let them see my next project. I'm assuming by that, that they think I can at least write.

So, that leaves 12 unanswered email queries. Some of them are getting close to 3 months old. Most of the responses I have received came within a week.

So, to my question. Should I keep querying, using the same query letter, or consider revising it - again. This last go-round I followed Kristen Nelson's method for "Building the Pitch Paragraph," and think I have a pretty good query letter - not perfect, but I think it's the best I've come up with so far.

What does anyone suggest?
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Just as I've been maintaining all along, obstructionists, under the guize of environmentalists are holding this nation, and the world hostage. Listen to an interview with Senator Orrin Hatch at http://real.ksl.com/video/slc/2/239/23997.mp3. He tells it like it really is. Now, all we need is a president with some courage to tell the nation how it really is, but I know Obama won't do it, and I fear McCain won't either. I think the only hope we have is to elect senators and representatives who wills stand up to the so-called environmentalists and say "no!" to their obstructionist activities.

I'm open to address any disagreements.
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Hi, to all my faithful readers (all 2 or 3 of you).

I recently returned from a trip to Seattle where I attended a wildlife seminar up in the mountains about 45 minutes east of the city. It was beautiful out there, I have to admit, and I really miss being near the ocean. As expected, the weather was cool and it rained on the day of our field trip - who'd of guessed, but overall, I loved being in Washington. It was my first trip there.

On the last day of the seminar, we had this stupid state representative, or senator, or whatever he was, come talk to us about wildlife issues in the State of Washington. Up 'til then, the seminar had gone well and I loved all the talk of how we can help wildlife while improving our highways. However, when this guy started talking he blew me out of my seat, almost literally.

His first stupid idea was that he was for "choice." Being as he said he is a Republican, that already made him suspect in my mind. Can you spell R-I-N-O (Republican In Name Only)?

His second stupid idea is that we need higher gasoline prices. Yes, I said higher prices for gas. He thinks that's a great idea. To be fair, his rationale was that higher prices would stimulate research into alternative energy sources. While that may be true, those cost-efficient alternative energy sources are years if not decades away still. That doesn't help us in our current situation, but only stifles our economy. What we need is to develop the energy sources we already have, such as drill in Anwar, Alaska, develop oil shale, tar sands, drill off-shore, etc. We also need more refineries. We haven't built a new refinery in over 30 years. Can you spell petroleum S-H-O-R-T-A-G-E!

Then, he topped that with his third stupid idea. He said we need to raise taxes!!! That one totally blue me away. Somehow, by raising taxes and stifling economic growth, putting more strain on small as well as large businesses, putting people out of work, etc., will somehow magically materialize into more money in the governmental coffers. Well, just the opposite is true. Milton Freedman demonstrated it in theory that if you reduce taxes, thus stimulate the economy, it will result in more dollars in the governmental coffers. President John Kennedy proved it, President Ronald Reagan proved it, the Republican Congress during Bill Clinton's administration proved it, and our current President Bush proved it. Every time taxes have been lowered, it resulted in more, not less, money in the coffers, and just the opposite has happened whenever taxes have been raised. I just don't understand why politicians don't seem to get it.

Well, about this time, being the mild-mannered superhero, er, person that I am, I simply got up and walked out, not wanting to make a scene. But I was fuming and haven't calmed down yet. Maybe this blog entry will help.

I'm open to discussion.
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