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The Lesson of an Imperfect Manuscript | Query Quest Week Two

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Next to my vision board, on my wall, I have a sample query letter from an English course I took last semester. It is the most intimidating and evil sheet of paper I’ve ever had the displeasure to meet so far. No wonder I hide it behind my open door.

I’ve got a query tracker. I’ve got a finished manuscript. I’ve got an online author platform. Ironically enough, I’ve got everything I need for my query quest except for the one thing this quest is named after: the query letter.

Last week, I went on a solo writer’s retreat to Florida to focus my time on my writing. A lot of my time was spent reading through “Save the Cat! Writes a Novel” by Jessica Brody. I wanted to have a better understanding of the structure of storytelling before I continued outlining my newest WIP.

This book is a fantastic read, and it has really made me more aware of the books I read, not as a reader, but as a writer/storyteller. It really opened my eyes to how stories are told, and more importantly, why. With that book, I was able to come back from Florida with a finished outline for the first book of my WIP trilogy.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize I had packed self-doubt when I came back from Florida as well.

In learning all this new valuable knowledge, I started to have doubts about my completed manuscript. I started to think through the plot and the characters, and though it does follow most of Brody’s tips, I was convinced my manuscript was now a disaster.

I am now stuck under a bridge in my quest, afraid to look over the bridge to see what the rest of this quest entails, because I know, it’s the query letter.

“But my manuscript is a pile of sh*t! I shouldn’t even bother with the query letter!”

I decided to express my doubts on instagram, and a very good writer friend of mine commented something that really stuck with me.

“If an agent really likes your concept and voice, they’ll be willing to work with you through anything they think needs fixing. I think seeing feedback you get from querying will let you know if you need to do more edits or not.” – Julia Hersum

I can read twenty books on plot structure in a month, then draft out my manuscript for my WIP, even edit it with beta readers and a critique partner, but my manuscript will never be perfect. No manuscript is perfect when it is being sent out. An agent/editor/publisher will still work with you on revisions even after you’ve signed a contract.

So yes, my manuscript may be a pile of sh*t, but it’s been set there by unicorn. It’s magical.

This week, I hope to have the first draft of my query letter done. Also this week I will be running around getting ready for my last semester of college. Oh boy.

Fairfarren, friends.

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