Thursday, February 4, 2010

In Query Hell? Give Yourself a Fist Bump!

Query Hell
For those of you in query hell, please know, I feel your pain. I was there not long ago, and I easily recall the distress of obsessively checking my email and excel spreadsheet, and stalking, I mean researching, agents on their blogs, Twitter, Publisher's Marketplace, AgentQuery.com, Google, QueryTracker, blah, blah, blah.

Being the oddball that I am, I actually enjoyed querying. Let me clarify: I enjoyed the part where I reworked every word on my query until it sparkled like a diamond, the part where I personalized my introductions, and the part when I hit the "send" button. In other words, I liked the parts I had control over. The parts I didn't have control over? Not so much.

Rejection Sucks
There's really no nicer way to say it. Rejection sucks - it's brutal, horrifying, and ego-crushing. On the other hand, being asked for partials or fulls never loses its luster.

Let me explain:

1) I recently got a pass on a full of my murder mystery MURDER ON TWILIGHT CIRCLE (MTC) by an agent who'd had it since last July. (I informed her I was offered representation for my YA novel, but she asked to read the murder mystery, anyway.) My stomach sank.

2) I also recently got a request for the first 75 pages and a synopsis for MTC. The query was sent last August. I gave myself a pat on the back.

As you know, I signed with Bernadette Baker-Baughman aka, "Awesome Agent" of Baker's Mark Literary Agency in November. My point is, I have an agent so none of this matters, right? Right! So why did I feel happy about the request and unhappy about the pass? Because I'm human and have an [abnormally large] ego. The emotions are still there, though thankfully, not quite as pronounced.

Fist Bump, Baby!
If you're in Query Hell, give yourself a fist bump. Why? Because you're pursuing your dreams. I'm not kidding, do it! Did you do it? Good. Because, you, my friends, are special. There are many folks out there who don't pursue their dreams for one "good" reason or another. It's true they never suffer the indignity of a rejection, but they also never experience the deep satisfaction of going for it.

We're All In This Together
Simply put, you are not alone. I'm not saying there are definitely other life forms "out there," I'm just saying we really are all in this thing together. And by thing, I mean, life.

I'd love to hear about your experiences, emotions, viewpoints on the querying process. And, best of luck to all along your journey. ;-)

51 comments:

Kelly said...

I JUST started querying a few agents this week. I was so happy to be away from the computer today so I wasn't checking every five mintues!

DebraLSchubert said...

Kelly, Good luck! I'd love to hear more about your book. Do tell. ;-)

Natasha Rogue said...

Fist bump right back atcha! ;)

Going through query hell, IMO, makes one a stronger writer. With thicker skin and often a need to look back at your work to see if maybe it needs to be spit shined a little--or attacked with a chainsaw and strung back together--improvement is unavoidable. If you don't give up that is.

Great post!

Paul Michael Murphy said...

I dread it. All of it.

Sybir St. John said...

Thanks to some great, no AWESOME, writing buddies I'm no longer in query hell...I'm actually enjoying the process for what it is...the next step in the evolution of my writing.

Thank you for showing me how to polish the coal into a more sparkling gem (not quite ready to call it a diamond yet...still have a few nerves about that), but I'm looking at it as a process and that's helping. Besides, I've got more edits and writing to get done on the next books!

Paul Greci said...

Nice piece, Deb. My book is on submission now..the journey continues.

DebraLSchubert said...

Natasha, Exactly - like they say, "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger!" I'm sure some people think drinking poison would be easier than querying, but it's all part of the game we're choosing to play. Knowing that you played full out is the definition of "success."

DebraLSchubert said...

Murph, Aw, come on. It's all one, big, happy, joyful game, right? No? Oh, well then, never mind. ;-)

DebraLSchubert said...

Stacia, You're welcome, but I don't think I've done much. YOU are a diamond, btw - your work is merely a reflection of that. ;-)

DebraLSchubert said...

Paul, Glad you liked the post, and best of luck! I'm, hopefully, not far behind you. Keep me posted!

Sharon Mayhew said...

I submitted to a second agent today. Hitting send is nerve wrecking...First query, nice personal rejection with a positive suggestion. :)

I enjoy the researching process too. Hopefully, I've done enough and am sending "myself" to the right agents.

DebraLSchubert said...

Sharon, Congrats! You're in the game and on your way. Personal rejections w/suggestions are golden. Learn from those, I know I did. Best of luck - keep us posted!!

koralee said...

This does not sound fun at all...hang in there. Thank you for visiting me...your sweet comments always make my day. xoxo

Pen Pen said...

I think I've sent 50 queries now. I have a spreadsheet too-I think that's the only way to do it. I got a rejection from the first query I sent out the other day, and that was depressing cuz the agent was...ya know...my "Golden Agent". The rejections are always more upsetting than the requests for more are exciting for me...I dunno why. Maybe it's easier us to be like, "Oh Hell, I am crap! They know it just like I was worried they would."
I don't stay in that "upset" place for too long, and I know I'm not crap-but the intensity is always very overwhelming for like 3 hours for me.
But-I've gotten quite a few requests for more, so I think it's smart to try and fall asleep each night on a positive note. ...and it helps me to imagine what I'll say one day on my 'Today Show' interview(I saw Stephen King on there a few years ago, and it's kind of my dream now:)-I'll name a few agents who didn't want me, and saying something disparaging about them before I start talking about all my books sold and the huge success of my fashion line/bakery chain. :)

Pen Pen said...

I'm glad ur posting on this too-I think the MOST helpful thing for me in the writing/querying process has been published/"agented" authors telling about what happened to them. :)

DL Hammons said...

No fist bumping here. I seriously SUCK at writing query letters! At this point I don't think I'll ever get out of the gate.

Indigo said...

I needed to read this today and that's all I can say. I'm truly trying not to be disheartened. No I haven't gotten a rejection...Just a few stranger than reality moments. (Hugs)Indigo

DebraLSchubert said...

Koralee, It can be fun, at least for me it was. Now that I have an agent, I can't say I miss it! However, when my book goes out on submission, I'll have to pull out the lizard skin.

And your blog is BEYOND. I absolutely love it. I even tweet about it sometimes. ;-)

DebraLSchubert said...

Penny, Feel free to email me to update me on your query journey. If you ever need support, you know where to find me. Best of luck! ;-)

SM Blooding said...

I'm in Query Hell with both series. The series just gets longer as I continue to query. I've had a couple of requests for partial. Most have been rejected. I'm still waiting on one and hope-hope-hoping! I think she'd be a GREAT agent!

But I'm still working at it, still charging ahead. I may have to take another look at my YA query packet and see what I can spruce up. They're both AWESOME stories though! So...hopefully!!!!

Frankie

Suzyhayze said...

Second by second my feelings about it all change.

I don't mind rejections on Query Letters. Those don't phase me anymore. What I mind are the rejections on large partials or fulls that give notes and the same day you get another rejection with DIFFERENT notes entirely. That's just crazy. that's when you pull your hair out and write another fricken book.

Or: The agent who loves you. The agent who loves you and keeps passing on your work because she feels she can't sell it right now, but wants to keep seeing new manuscripts. And you start to wonder... is this my biggest fan? And she reads my books for free? Or is she really just waiting for me to write "the one" oh well. Rant over. Thanks for posting. Fist bump? Okay?

DebraLSchubert said...

DL, I'd be happy to help w/your query if you'd like. I always enjoyed working on my query letters. (I know, I'm crazy. I've heard it a million times.)

Hang in there, and best of luck!!

DebraLSchubert said...

Indigo, Hang in there. It's a tough process for all of us. Reaching out to others to "talk it through" is always good advice. If you need me, I'm here.

Hugs and peace to you, my friend.

DebraLSchubert said...

Frankie, Have you joined YALITCHAT? There are great resources there for working on your query, etc. If you haven't, here's the link: http://yalitchat.ning.com/

Stay positive & keep writing!

V.M.Pettingill said...

Great timing on your post as I've just begun to query. I've sent 7 out into the world now, and heard back from 4. The whole process certainly has its ups and downs that's for sure!

DebraLSchubert said...

Suzy, You get different suggestions from different agents b/c everyone's different! I know that sounds like a major "duh!" but it's true. You'll know when you find the right agent for you, b/c he/she will "get" your work and your vision. I know it will happen for you - sometimes it's just a waiting game. In the meantime, keep smiling. ;-)

DebraLSchubert said...

V.M., Welcome! Good for you. Beginning the query process can be daunting. Give yourself a fist bump - your writing journey is moving forward!

Carrie C said...

Debra, thanks for the love! Your energy and positive attitude are great :) I've enjoyed the query process for the clarity it's given me into narrative - what is my story really about? That takes some discipline, and I'm trying to put it to use in my next one! Good luck to you and thanks again!

Nancy J. Parra said...

Fabulous post. :) Thanks for sharing. Congrats to all for following their dreams!

Jemi Fraser said...

Love it Debra! I only sent out a very few queries on my last ms. I got some awesome feedback from agents. I'm going to do some revision on it (probably not until summer) & then do it again.

DebraLSchubert said...

Carrie, Are you getting blasted w/snow down there? It's snowing here (finally!). We're so excited to have a storm hit - they've been avoiding Philly like the plague.

And, good for you for enjoying the query process and learning from it. With the right attitude, there are great lessons to glean. Best of luck!

DebraLSchubert said...

Nancy, Thank you and you're welcome!

DebraLSchubert said...

Jemi, I'm glad you got useful feedback. Best of luck when you take your query back out on the road!

Savannah said...

You and I are totally on the same wavelength! I just did a vlog for Let The Words Flow about this exact topic (http://www.youtube.com/letthewordsflow#p/a/u/0/rlLpjbywzaM)

I'm so thrilled to see the message getting shared!

DebraLSchubert said...

Savannah, Great minds think alike, right? ;-) Thanks for the link. I'll definitely check it out!

Anonymous said...

You're gorgeous, lady! Fist bump to you!

-- Dawn Metcalf

DebraLSchubert said...

Dawn, You're such a tease. Fist-bump right back atcha! ;-)

WendyCinNYC said...

I know what you mean. A month or so after I signed with my agent, I got a request for a full that read "Send it right away! This sounds fantastic!"

Ego boost!

Solvang Sherrie said...

That cartoon is hilarious, probably because it is sad but true :)

DebraLSchubert said...

Wendy, I know - our egos are insatiable. They can never get enough, can they? Hugs to you, btw. ;-)

DebraLSchubert said...

Sherrie, I know - it couldn't have been more perfect! And you're right, it is sad but true! ;-)

nsiyer said...

Reading about 'REJECTION SUCKS', I always bring a distinction. The distinction is 'Rejection sucks only when you think you are rejected' but does not when 'you think your article was rejected.'

Corra McFeydon said...

LOL. The 'other life forms' comment cracked me up.

I'm not at the querying stage yet but have all the respect in the world for those who are. They've made it through the first hurdle.

Great post. :)

Corra

from the desk of a writer

Fragrant Liar said...

I totally hate rejection. In fact, I reject it! I'll be sending out some queries again in the next few months, and part of me really looks forward to it because it's the marker of reaching that POINT in the novel writing process: the completion point. Having experienced rejections in the past, I know well to expect them the next go-round, but getting them (and everyone does get them) will still be painful.

One of my writing buddies once said that if you're getting rejected, you're doing something right. What she meant was that you're overcoming your fear and submitting your writing, and that's more than many people do. So one step out of the way. Fuhgeddaboutit now and write on the next project. Cuz you'll want to be ready to sell more than one piece when the first one is accepted!

DebraLSchubert said...

nsiyer, True, you have to separate yourself from both your work and someone's random opinion. The rejection - at least in the publishing world - is never to you personally. ;-)

DebraLSchubert said...

Corra, When you arrive at the gates of Query Hell, just remember, you're moving forward along your journey, doing what you said you'd do, and making your dreams come true. Oh, and don't forget to give yourself a fist bump!

DebraLSchubert said...

FL, What your friend said is exactly the point of this post. If you're theoretically throwing your hat over the fence, then you're in the game. And who wouldn't want to be in the game rather than sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else have all the fun? And, yes, if you look at it that way, getting rejections is "fun."

Best of luck to you with your next round of queries!

Jacki Miller said...

I am there! Please stop me from checking my e-mail account every five minutes! I question everything I have done from my query to manuscript to the way I addressed my envelope!

kanishk said...

-improvement is unavoidable. If you don't give up that is

Work from home India

Trisha said...

I've just started querying recently...scary, but fun! :D And just when I thought my query was perfect, people have pointed out something VERY obvious to me that I should've known all along, and that will necessitate MAJOR changes. Gah. :P

Georgeawhv said...

That cartoon is hilarious, probably because it is sad but true :)

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