fiction, query, writing, writing fiction

Standing Out

Lily Chang © 2019

A few days ago, I finished the final edits to my manuscript, again, revised after receiving feedback from an expert on magical realism. After receiving a handful of query rejections, I wanted to see what I could improve from my end.

Over the last few days, I’ve been taking a look at my proposal package: my pitch, my synopsis, my query. And, I’ve been doing more research about what agents hope for in a query letter.

Besides some of the usual and expected: stick to the three paragraph formula, keep it short, personalize the letter to the agent, something caught my attention: stand out.

Stand out.

What does that mean?

I mean, I get it. Agents go through obscene numbers of query letters all the time and need something attention-grabbing.

But, I’ve stood out most of my life, not by choice.

I was born and raised in an area where 9minority was virtually non-existent. Taiwanese (American)? What’s that? Asians had to be Chinese or Japanese. Mmm, hmmm. Whatever.

And the fact that I spent as much time there as any of them, born and raised there or the fact that I spoke better English than most anyone there – going all the way in school and working hard on my PhD did that- didn’t matter.

Or, how about my academic training being in a field that is dominated by Western European men? I stood out there, too. Wasn’t and isn’t such a good thing.

Standing out….

How am I supposed to do that in the world of fiction writers?

Write well. I can do that. Unfortunately that isn’t what catches a person’s eye at the outset.

Do what’s super hip or cool. I was never really good at playing that game. I’m terrible really. Besides, I’d rather be me, than be what someone else who’s decided what i should be.

And, I’m not hot on “the usual” for drawing attention, like sex or battles.

What if what I have to share is something more profound? Something deeper. Something we have been missing and desperately want?

What if we want to see that love and hope still exist in a real and tangible way, in spite of betrayal, hardship, abandonment, and whatever other difficulties we’re forced to deal with in life? I’m doing that in my writing.

I also want to invite the imagination out to play.

How do I sell that?

I don’t have a quick and easy answer to that.

What I can say is, the proof is in the pudding, I mean, the writing. And. I’ve done my best to describe my project in my queries and synopses.

I’m putting myself out there, and we’ll see what happens.

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