Joe’s Post #63
“This is a learning experience.” “This is a learning experience.” “This is a learning experience.”
I kept telling myself that as I walked into the workshop run by Penguin Senior Editor, Adrienne Kerr entitled, “Queries that Work”. Hey, let’s face it, I needed to know how to do that, I really, really did. But I also kinda wanted someone, somewhere to say that this query worked.
Damn you, ego. Damn you to hell!
So I sat down, pulled out my query and gave it one last read through. I mean, why not? I’d done it up about 1 am last night and even though I checked it again at 8 am this morning, I’m all about getting it right if I can. No mistakes. No missing words. No hanger instead of hangar errors.
Note to self. Do not trust my ability to see anything at 2 am or 8 the next day. Much to my horror, I found not one but two errors.
Yikes! I knew THE ONE THING every book, every website, every agent ever said was NO ERRORS!
Panicking, I raced downstairs to the office nook and figured out how the computer works (which you’d think wouldn’t be that hard, but when it’s five minutes to a workshop, the world seems to put all sorts of stupid barriers in your way, like password not accepted, administrator not recognized or keyboard not detected.
But I found a computer I could log on to, logged on, loaded up skydrive for word (awesome, btw, for stupid people like me who didn’t even bring a flashdrive) and fixed my problem. I quickly printed out a new copy, tore back upstairs and sat back down. At the front.
No being shy-Joe. The workshop description said there would be a critique and dammit, I was going to look someone in the eye when they said I might want to consider choosing a different career, like being a male model or something.
The workshop turned out to be fantastic. I learned so much about the art of the query and even more importantly, some of the key things agents and editors will actually look for. But the key thing for me was to make sure I did my research. I mean, I do, I really do, but it validated my approach. It’s sort of like not having a computer work. First you check if it’s turned on. Then you shout at it. Then you see if it’s just the screen off … but little by little, you figure out what’s not working (then call someone in to fix it.)
So, researching the agent/editor is a GOOD thing. So, something else is failing.
Time to look at the pitch.
She asked if I wanted to read it out. I think I said “urg” and shook my head.
When Ms. Kerr went through it, it sounded awesome in my ears, sort of like how I look in the mirror sometimes and see George Clooney looking back at me (or, on a bad day, I see John Candy).
Anyway, the query sounded awesome and I held my breath, waiting for the hammer to fall.
But instead, she said it was a great query. She loved that I was able to mention Daniel Kella in my professional history, that I knew what she did and who she worked with, that I had a great comparison to best-selling novels without me saying I will be the next JK Rowling. She loved I had an emotional hook and that I hit some key conflicts in the story.
She asked the audience and the feedback was all pretty positive. No, really positive. The only thing the room agreed needed to be changed was one paragraph moved to the first one read.
Oh how my little Joe-heart soared.
I’d nailed it.
The rollercoaster roared upwards.