Querying (for me) is like a layer of hell. You’re taking a piece of your fragile soul, cutting it out of you and sending it off for others to judge. It’s painful!
Way way way back when I finished my first book in The Protectors Saga, I dipped my toe into trying to get it traditionally published. I sent out query letters to approximately fifteen or twenty agents, but the only thing to come from it was rejection. And rejection in any form is hard. But rejection of your writing, something you poured your heart, soul and grueling amount of time into – that’s like brass knuckles to the face hard.
So, I decided to self-publish. I feel it was the right thing for me to do at the time. And then when I finished Becoming Eden, I decided to self-publish that as well. I didn’t even bother trying to query Eden. It was a vampire book and most agents (even to this day) list ‘vampires, werewolves and paranormal romance’ in their list of do-not-wants. I have contention for that stance, particularly given the ongoing success of vampire and paranormal romance novels by some self-published authors – but I digress.
As I finish editing my latest novel, I’m once again contemplating querying. The rational side of my brain says, “Yes, just do it. What could it hurt? Something good may come of it.” But then the emotional side of my brain screams, “NO! Don’t do it! You’re not prepared! It’s just slow torture on a path to heartbreak.” I’m trying to push aside that emotional conflict and really give it a try.
If you’re like me and HATE querying, but are getting ready or are in the process of doing it, here are a few tips I learned after my first failed querying misadventure that will hopefully help both me and you –
- Query your most desired agents first – Have a list of all your “dream” agents. Query them first. Give it 3 week to a month and if you haven’t received any positive news, then move on to other agents.
- It’s okay to query A LOT of agents – As long as they’re reputable and looking for the genre you’re selling, send them your stuff. You hear stories all the time of authors getting rejected 50 times, but then one agent sees something they like in their story and the rest is history.
- Do your research – Don’t just query any old person who had ‘agent’ listed in their credentials. You worked hard on your book. You don’t want to send it to someone who either doesn’t know what they’re doing or are scamming you in one way or another. Two great sites for researching agents are AgentQuery and QueryTracker.
- Try not to let rejection discourage you – Unless you’re that ridiculously lucky one in a million – YOU WILL GET REJECTIONS. It’s hard – believe me I know. You’ll want to binge emotionally draining Netflix shows for a week and down a tube of uncooked cookie dough just to try and get through the rejection depression. You can do that – I did. But don’t let that stop you from writing. Just remember, agents sometimes get hundreds of query letters a week. Just because yours wasn’t the right fit for them at the time does not mean it isn’t worth publishing.
- Test the hell out of your query letter – Seriously! Show it to everyone you know. Get advice from your friends and family. Join a writing group and beta test it on them. Post it on your twitter/facebook/website and ask for opinions. A great query letter can be the difference between a rejection or a request.
- You have other options – As enticing and desired as traditional publishing is, it’s not the end of the line if you really want your novel out in the world.
- Always remember – your work (that you put so much of your time and energy into) is worth having out there in the world. And someone out there will enjoy the story you told.