I sent off a query letter today (it’s been roughly a month since I sent one out). I used my new query letter, so I feel better about that part. I also had to write a biography, and I think that went well. The part that makes me nervous is that they asked for 10-15 sample pages. It’s not that I’m really afraid to give my work to others to read–I’ve had several other people read my book so far–but it’s a little nerve-wracking that getting an agent or not can hinge on 10-15 pages. Although I don’t know why that should be worse than just sending out a plain query letter; I would think, if anything, giving someone the first two chapters of my book would make them more likely to want to read more. A query letter just doesn’t come off as that interesting–especially as I feel (and have been told) that dialog is my strongest talent. There is no dialog in query letters.
Although, when I really think about it, I think my main fear is of English majors. Everyone who has read my book so far has been a lay person, if you will: a history buff, a vampire lover, a lawyer–but no English majors.
I was just one class shy of getting my minor in creative writing when I was in college, and I couldn’t make myself do it. I felt like I had been broken over the knee of an extra-large English graduate (why my college insisted on mixing English grad students with undergrads in the creative writing classes, I have no idea). Rightly or wrongly, I formed the opinion then that English majors were sanctimonious and arrogant–especially ones that had already been published (no matter how trivial the publication). The history department, by contrast, was laid-back, full of great stories, and they threw a Christmas party every year that involved all of them getting drunk (at which point the stories got even better); it was legend. Needless to say, I ended up a history major.
When I look at agents’ profiles, and I see English major after English major after English major, it gives me the heebie-jeebies all over again.