Why Can't I Get Past the Query?

Publish date:

Q. I know this will sound trite, but I have exhausted a multitude of possibilities, and have come up with a dismal fact. Unless you are a well-known actor or perhaps a sports personality, having a manuscript even looked at is like urinating on a rope and expecting the flow to reverse itself ... so that it travels against gravity. 
I won't bore you with what steps I've taken, but suffice it to say that my lack of success isn't due to the manuscript's quality - or lack thereof, since nobody will even respond to heartfelt pleadings of even a 2-3 page read! What must a person do to become a success? I have paid thousands of dollars to "vanity publishers" on my first two books, and just will not do it again on this - my best and third book. It's a political horror (Is there any other kind?) and the word count is 270K. Entitled: Necromancer, and if you read that alone, and knew anybody with a shred of curiosity, then you've at least digested the title, could you provide the name of an agent for me to e-mail or call? The book is worth it, and promises to entertain even the most selective of publishers/agents.
- David

A. OK, David. Let's tackle this problem one part at a time.
First off, 270,000 words is not only too long, it's crazy long. A typical horror novel would run aboyt 90K, so if you mentioned the word count in your query, that alone could explain why no one requested more.
Second: the title. First off, it's "titled," not "entitled." Second, I don't even read horror, but Necromancer seems like kind of a cliche title. I would change it. On this subject, what is "political horror"? I've never heard of that subgenre. Can it just be called "horror"? If you make up your own subgenre, then it might scare agents off.
If you change your query to meet my suggestions and don't get requests for pages, then it's safe to say the problem lies completely in your query letter. I met a writer the other day in Texas who had a great background in journalism and a great premise for a novel. "Why won't any agents read a sample of my work, Chuck?" he asked. "Well, sir," I told him. "If you have good credentials and a good premise, then it's obvious that your query needs work."
Lastly, the very fact that you say it will entertain "the most selective of publishers/agents" is not good news. Horror is a very specific niche, and I have never even heard of "political horror." So - on the contrary - very few agents and publishers will be interested in something like this. Your difficult job is finding a horror agent who will be interested.

"It's a lonely life - the way of the necromancer.
Oh yes. Lacrimae Mundi - the tears of the world."
- Merlin,