Monday, November 21, 2011

Overcoming the Agony of Querying

I recently joined even though I have an agent. Go figure I'd decide to join AFTER needing it. What inspired me to write this post was a back and forth between some folks on that site querying the agent whom represents me. I had mentioned it too about six months, maybe a little over, to acquire one.

Admittedly I felt foolish saying, "It took me six months!" Why? Well,  because some people never find agents. This isn't to say you can't get published! So, don't worry, there are plenty of small presses, e-pubbers, and other means out there for unagented authors.

Why it took me six months?

Luck I suppose. I have a list of every agent I ever queried...92 to be exact. Forty of which were rejections, several partial requests, even fewer full requests. Overall, I would say fifty were no responses, IF I'm being kind to myself.

I have to admit though, the first few rejections were entertaining. I was excited to even GET a response, whether positive or not. About ten rejections in and I think, "This stinks now." At the twenty rejection point, and a majority of no responses, I started to falter. I was discouraged, not wanting to check my mail, so I took a while off from querying.

Mind you through out my querying I was already writing my second book, and that's key. NEVER STOP WRITING! If you're like us, "writers" it's in your blood. I would write for as long as my aging hands would let me...why? That's for another post.

Back to querying agents. It's hard, draining, time-consuming (if you're doing it right), and full of hope, excitement, and often dream shattering. Yeah I said it—it can and probably will at some point drag you into the depths of chocolate and ice cream.

That's life. We live in a cruel world of cold, hard truths, but that's no excuse. Your job as a writer is to A) write and B) query if you want to get published. It's like anything else. In order to get results you need to do the work.

It's understandable how frustrated some can become, I went through it myself at one point, but I always kept one thing in mind: HP Lovecraft had over 200 rejections before getting published. That's right, the master of the Cthulhu Mythos received over 200 letters saying, "Tough cookies, Mr. Lovecraft." And do you know what he did with those 200 rejection letters?

Here's the main point of this post.

Mr. Lovecraft, and if for some bizarre reason you don't know him go rent any number of movies which are directly or indirectly inspired his work, took each letter and hung them on the walls of his office. The office in which Lovecraft wrote was lined floor to ceiling with rejection letters, every inch of space covered. Two hundred? Jeez, I only got forty! Now THAT is one dedicated author, AND he didn't stop writing while querying.

All a rejection letter means is "try again" and Lovecraft knew that. He never gave up, and neither should you. We all deserve the life we want. So, just take it. Query. Query. Write. Write. Write. Query, and Query some more.

So, Farewell,  keep on writing, and make sure your pen has ink!


Steven Whibley said...

I really hated writing queries. So time consuming, so many rejections ... alas, there is a learning curve to such things and it perseverance pays off, especially when perseverance is a trait you have with your writing too.

Good post - thanks for sharing

Lane said...

Thanks for the comment! What I hear the most complaints about are queries and the synopsis. I personally don't mind queries, I think that's my strong point. I hate writing the synopsis. How did you cut a 350-paged book into five pages?

Best advice I got about writing is to keep doing it, even if you don't like what you're writing, you'll eventually find your flow!

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