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Thursday, May 14, 2015

WriteTip: Query Smarter

Query anxiety should be a DSMVI listed phobia.

I spent days working-reworking; checking, double-checking my files needed to send off submission requests received after a pitch contest.

I mean, I had one foot in the door- my pitch did well enough to garner agents interest and they asked me to send my query, synopsis , and additional sample pages.
Happy Dance, Right?

Except Moronic-oversight never rests--especially when I'm anxious. My chances of doing something stupid rise tenfold.

The synopsis had me most concerned, since I struggle with that document, which is a step-by-step guide on the major events throughout the book. It let's the agents know what will happen, if the story arc is interesting and if you know how to close the dang thing satisfying enough for readers.

What I hadn't anticipated, was file corruption when working from a document. And it wasn't my synopsis- it was the actual query section--the first item in the email--the thing that says "I'm either a competent writer you can trust, or a total moron."

My query file looked perfect, when I copied and pasted it in the body of the email, because no one wants to open mystery attachments in emails anymore--virus/malware candy, but as soon as I hit send the document added shadow files from the file I had worked from in order to develop and spruce my query letter.

I didn't even know it. Until, later, out of writer-anxiety to make sure I sent files to the correct email accounts, I noticed something odd. My parenthesis marks indicating areas I needed to add for my query, which I only use when developing a document. Inside the parenthesis says, (personalize for agent).
How much dufus-ier can it get?
It duplicated the shadow files multiple times in the sent emails.

So the first thing any agent I sent the query to  sees, after the actual query I intended to send,  is impersonalized notes about needing to address and personalize my document--repeated two to three times.

Good first impression. I was mortified to say the least.

First I panicked and assumed my writing career was over, because obviously I'm a dufus. Who wants to sign a dufus? I don't--and I'm not even an agent.
Completely embarrassed and highly apologetic I sent an email stating my error and apologizing for sending a confusing and unprofessional submission.
I heard back from two of the agents, who were so kind and reassuring- informing me that human error happens, and computer error likes to jump on board wherever it can.

I wanted to jump through the screen and hug these agents, because I was truly in despair over this error.

I also learned a valuable tip. Here it is:
When copying and pasting files to the body of an email send a test copy to your own email address first to check how it's translating once sent through the internet. Or have a good buddy willing to receive your tester submission to check the files- do this at least once for each file you are copying to the body of an email.

Believe me. This is a good tip.

Dignity is something I gave up on in third grade when I ran into a tetherball pole during a recess game of freeze-tag, knocking out my front tooth and bloodying my entire face in the process.

It was my twelve embarrassing occurrence in my elementary experience and I realized it was best to stop holding myself to a dignified standard.
My nature opposed such things.

Basically, I'm Elaine Benes of Seinfeld.

Learn from me:
Send a dummy version of submissions to yourself. There's no harm in checking how your submission looks once it's been sent. And it's a whole lot less horrifying than realizing you sent something riddled with shadow file duplicates.

Write Smart--or if you're like me, Just Write On.

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