So here’s a query letter my friend Chris Wind sent to a publisher recently:
Editor, [XYZ Publishers]:
Feminist theorist Dale Spender wrote, in Women of Ideas and What Men Have Done to Them, “We need to know how patriarchy works. We need to know how women disappear….” Indeed we do. Where are all the straight-A girls from high school? Why, how, have they ‘disappeared’? Marriage and kids is an inadequate answer because married-with-kids straight-A boys are visible. Everywhere. Even the straight-B boys are out there.
This is what happens (fiction; 114,698w) responds to Spender’s urgent comment with a microscopic examination of the life of a single woman that is, I fear, all too typical, answering the question ‘What happened?’
Although there have been many non-fiction books since Spender that have exposed the sexism in our culture … fiction seems not to have kept pace, seems not to be informed by the insights of those authors. This is what happens thus helps fill an important gap (especially for those who don’t read non-fiction) …
There are three voices juxtaposed throughout the novel: the fresh, impassioned protagonist speaking in the present through her journal entries from the age of fifteen to fifty; the wise, and fighting-off-bitter, now-fifty protagonist commenting about the events of her life, talking to her younger self; and the dispassionate narrator. Insights are underscored by alternate realities, extended ‘should’ve happeneds’ and ‘could’ve happeneds’…
And so This is what happens is part fiction, part memoir; part personal essay, part critical essay; part psychology, part philosophy, part sociology. It is a maze of analysis in which, despite the appearance of rambling randomness, one thing leads inexorably to another.
I append below a bio, synopsis, and sample; I am submitting this query to a few other publishers.
Thank you for your consideration, and I do hope to hear you’d like to read more!
Bio: Chris Wind (M.A., Philosophy; B.A., Literature) has published four collections of poetry (Paintings and Sculptures, UnMythed, Soliloquies: the lady doth indeed protest and dreaming of kaleidoscopes). Her prose and poetry has appeared in several journals and magazines (including Prism International, Ariel, Bogg, Canadian Woman Studies, The University of Toronto Review, Hysteria, The Wascana Review, The Antigonish Review, event, The New Quarterly, The Humanist, f.(L)ip, Waves, grain, Canadian Author & Bookman, cv2, Atlantis, and Herizons) as well as anthologies (including Contemporary Monologues for Young Women). Several of her short theatrical works have been performed, and her stories have been read on CBC Radio (the Canadian equivalent to the BBC). She has been awarded sixteen Ontario (Canada) Arts Council grants.
And this is the rejection letter she received:
Thank you for submitting your fiction proposal to [XYZ Publishers].
Unfortunately, we don’t think Women of Ideas and What Men Have Done to Them is a good fit for our list at this time. …
Gregg [Somebody, XYZ Publishers]
I don’t know what’s worse, that he didn’t read the letter (or even the first line) very carefully (let alone, one has to assume, the enclosed sample) or that he didn’t recognize Spender’s work.