When I first started querying, I had heard the process referred to as the querying trenches. I thought this was silly–I wasn’t going to war! I was only sending out my manuscript, hoping it might find a home with an agent who believed in me.
I was an idiot.
To me, querying wasn’t so much a battle but more like giving birth.
After three kids, I found it was important to go into the delivery room with a flexible plan and a support team. The same goes for the agent search.
Querying is much like the actual act of giving birth, in so many aspects.
There’s the hopeful beginning where you think, “Oh, I can so handle this!”
The intense middle where you start to question your ability to function as a human being.
Transition (this is the hardest part), where you just want to quit. “Send me home, y’all, I’m done.”
This is the part where it’s most tempting to leave. Take your birthing ball and go home. Tuck that manuscript under your bed because dreams have no place in your world anymore.
But then, you persist. You get through it. Edit. Submit. Revise. Try again.
That’s pretty much where the analogy ends, because you don’t have a snuggly warm bundle of baby at the end. Also, you still get to sleep all night. So, there’s that.
The Monday before Christmas, an e-mail popped up from my dream agent with the news I’d been hoping to hear. She loved my book and wanted to chat.
My story doesn’t end there. In fact, it’s only beginning. But going through the process helped me to understand the industry, myself, and my friends a whole lot better.
Along with endless questions to my support team, The Romance Chicks, I also did a ton of research on how to query. I figured I’d share some of my favorite resources here.
Twitter & Internet Contests.
There are some great opportunities to skip the slush pile and get in front of agents and editors. The Sub It Club website keeps an ongoing list of upcoming pitch events. You can also join their closed Facebook group to converse with other writer’s in the same boat.
This is a good breakdown of if you’re ready for Twitter pitch contests and how they work: http://writersinthestormblog.com/2014/09/the-ultimate-writers-guide-to-twitter-pitch-contests/
And when the request comes in, you’ll look super savvy if you add a link to the tweet that got you the request: http://lifehacker.com/5881208/add-hyperlinks-to-gmail-messages-with-a-keyboard-shortcut
You got a request! Now, onto preparing the material.
How should I name the file when I send requested materials? (Occasionally an agent would give specific instructions as to how they wanted the file. Usually, though, I was left to my own devices.) This blog post is chock full of information on formatting and how to save the file. Also, this is where I learned to paste my query in front of the partial or full manuscript.
What the heck do I put as a subject line?
This is a question I found myself asking and overthinking. I found this blog post from agent Christa Heschke on how to format the subject line of your submission. Some agents/agencies have forms you fill out and submit, but others just give an e-mail address. If that’s the case, Ms. Heschke gives some thoughts on how that subject line should read: http://christaheschke.blogspot.com/2014/06/querying-tip-subject-line.html
Now, you wait.
I found comfort watching these TED talks on writing inspiration: http://www.freelancewritersonline.com/ted-talks-writing-inspiration/
And I got started on my next project.
Sometimes I’d take a new workshop.
I actually started calling my pass notes just that–pass notes. I refused to call them rejections. As writers we know that words have power. If you say you got rejected you’ll begin to feel as thought you’re truly that… a reject–unloved, unlikeable, with stories no one would ever want to read. In all honesty, it’s just not true. There are a million and one reasons for a pass note, and not all of them are because the agent hated everything about you. Okay, really… none of them are because the agent hated everything about you. Even though it may feel like that sometimes.
Even the greatest writers got passed over, and many posted their pass notes online for all of us to read. I added this blog to my arsenal when I would get especially down about a pass note. Peruse through the offerings to soothe your writer’s soul: http://www.litrejections.com/
When you get the call, be prepared with questions. I referred to many on this list of questions and added my own, as well.
As a chocolatier, I don’t particularly trust people who don’t like chocolate. So I made sure my agent shared my affinity for cocoa. I was also curious about turn around times for manuscript review and who would be reading my work. (Was there an intern who would read it first?)
What comes next?
Well, it depends on the agent and the manuscript. For me, I’m working on edits. For some of the other Romance Chicks they went immediately on submission to publishers.
I’d love to hear what other writers use and have used as resources while they query.
Please feel free to post your own links below.
Happy Writing & Happy Querying!