On Writing – Query Letters, Always be Closing

This is probably the least fun phase of any novel project for me, but it is the most important: considering the project a complete enough product to begin moving into the “sales” phase.

Fun fact: writing is not my full time job. I have a 9 to 5 where I work in consulting sales and Business Development. Writing is my “side gig” that gets my attention and energies most nights of the week when I get home from the office grind.

Given my day job though, querying agents and publishers is something I have a good amount of kindred experience with: my day job does involve a certain amount of cold calling, trying to generate interest in my company’s services and project management, and landing meetings/sales through this kind of outreach.

Querying is a lot of the same: I do research on agents/publishers that may be interested in a story I have to offer, I draft a letter (or letters) and plug through the list as steadily as I can reaching out.

Unfortunately, I am nowhere near as successful at querying as I am with my day job. Anytime I’m on a grind of queries, I print and tack the rejections I receive over my desk and keep count (I call it my “Wall of No”) and use it to motivate me to keep going, keep working on the tone and pitch in my letter.

There are plenty of resources out there for writing a smart and effective query, and given my lack of success I don’t think I’m in much of a position to offer any kind of advice on the practice. The only thing I can offer is this:

In sales, you have to believe in the product/service you’re selling. A potential customer will see right through whatever lack of confidence you have, and it’ll always make the sale that much tougher for yourself. I believe the same goes for selling a book: be confident in the story you’ve crafted, be confident in the state that its in from a story and overall proofread perspective.

When you believe in the story/product/service, let that belief and confidence come through in your letter/cold calls/meetings about it, and it propel you past the rejections to improve your pitch rather than give up. When you get rejection, your response should be to believe in the product enough to work on your pitch so that your next target understands why you’re so confident.

As always, we move forward.

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