The Query Letter and Not Sounding Like an Egoist

I have officially sent off my manuscript to a professional editor, a creative writing professor and friend of my sister’s (thanks, Cari!). Now that it’s sent, I’m almost not sure what to do with myself. I have three or so other novels that I need to outline, setting up scenes like stills from a cinematic gem, and dive headfirst into character development. I can’t help but be a little reluctant, just because it’s like starting the soul-numbing, heart-wrenching cycle of first-drafting all over again. I’m guessing it doesn’t get easier with each pass.

Instead, I know I need to focus on something else that is equally as daunting: the query letter.

Selling myself is something that leaves me flailing. I can’t seem to find the balance between self-promotion and self-adulation, between cheerful confidence and odious narcissism. I’m not even entirely sure that I want to pursue the traditional agent-publisher route, but self-publishing with no experience whatsoever also fills me with dread. And, the idea of my novel ending up in some publishing house’s slush pile is even worse.

It’s amazing how one simple letter can write the fortune for a 200-some page novel, allowing its full realization into an actual book or ensuring its shadowy demise. If only I could think of other ways to say “I look forward to hearing from you.”


Published by Ren Martinez

Ren is a thirty-something Lost Boy whose personal aesthetic is “suspected of witchcraft by local villagers.” She subscribes to cheerful nihilism, the destruction of the patriarchy, and the belief that glitter makes everything better. She is a Richmond-based writer and performer who has fiction and non-fiction work found in a variety of publications, such as The Mary Sue, RVA Magazine, The Quotable, and Nostrovia Press. She is currently the fiction editor and a regular contributor at Quail Bell Magazine. She is also the co-host of the podcast, This F***ing Guy! Find out more at or read her dumbass tweets on Twitter @itsrenmartinez

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