Carol Muskoron
 
Picture

So I've written a novel - it's a beauty, and I'm looking for a literary agent.

I sit down to write a query letter and am tempted to start it thus:

'See this great novel? It will make you lots of money. I am a good person. 
Yours sincerely (very).
Carol Muskoron (aka the Naked Novelist - and yes, I really did take my clothes off).'

But I know this won't cut it. And I am prepared for this because I knew I was going to have to write this letter one day. Occasionally I'd take breaks from my prose and make drafts of the letter I would one day write to a literary agent. And so I am ready with my pithy description of the novel and with my pithy description of myself. But what I am not ready for is the soul searching that's necessary to complete the letter. Let me explain...

Once I'd written about me, and the novel, and had politely said that I was looking forward to hearing from the agent, I realised that something was missing. There was something I wasn't saying. And then I realised what it was. I hadn't explained why I had written this novel, or what had led me to write it in the first place. 

At this point, I found myself wishing that an angel who would reach down from the sky and pick me up and say, 'I know why you, little Carol Muskoron, have spent years writing beautiful novels and powerful short stories. There there. Don't say a word. I understand and I will make commercial sense of it all for you. Don't you worry!' 

Isn't it enough to write a novel without having to explain why you've dedicated yourself to a task through which you might not earn a bean? You might as well write:

'Dear literary agent, 
I am mad, quite mad. Attached is evidence of my madness, plus a synopsis of my madness.
Yours sincerely (very).
Carol Muskoron (aka the Naked Novelist - and yes, I really did take my clothes off).'

Go deeper, Carol, I told myself. I sat there and pondered: where had my journey begun? And I realised that it began with my love of the novels of John Irving and Angela Carter and Richard Brautigan and Isabel Allende - written by people with nothing in common except their eccentricity, their wild characters and their love of the fabulous. And at this point I realised that in my letter to the agent I had lied. I had written that my novel was a straightforward romcom  - it isn't a straightforward romcom - it is an eccentric romcom with wild characters and a fabulous plot. But guess what? I think the world is ready for  an eccentric romcom with wild characters and a fabulous plot.

It's a shame literary agents aren't angels - it seems that they're business people who can spot a great story. But I reckon with each query letter you write, your understanding of your 'business' and of what you have to sell grows. 

Right, enough navel gazing! I've got a new short story to publish tonight and some serious search engine optimisation to do on nakednovelist.com.

Yours sincerely (very).
Carol Muskoron (aka the Naked Novelist - and yes, I really did take my clothes off).'