If I were to tell you that the query process has been pure fun, I would lose all credibility. In the moment, it was anything but an enjoyable process. The business side of writing is tedious work. Somehow I endured, through countless revisions and rejections, endless edits to my synopsis and multiple versions of my query letter. Still, no matter how prepared I felt, there was always a sense of dread after hitting send, releasing my work out into the world to be judged.
And there were many judgments made. Slowly they trickled in to my inbox, each highlighted in red on my spreadsheet, mocking me each time I opened the document. There was also the apprehension of how my work would be received, the horror stories of other writers warning me of the cold and impersonal nature of the query process. There were also the tragedies—yes—the offer that I never received, which I learned of long after the fact, and had been rescinded for lack of a response. Somewhere out there it became tangled in the web and siphoned of all its promise.
But there was one thing no one mentioned to me about the query process. Sure, it is daunting to approach established agents and publishers, knocking at their doors and asking for a moment of their precious time. The reception I received from many agents and publishers was far from cold, in fact it has been quite the opposite. There have been many rejections, but the feedback has also been generous. Many have been kind enough to offer a personal response, even compliments. I won’t mention any names, but to all the agents and publishers who responded, I give you wholehearted thanks. Each one of you made the process that much easier and offered a glimmer of hope during the process.
Are you still scared to query? Don’t be. Remember that writing is a people business. Today’s rejection and your response could open the door to tomorrow’s acceptance. Follow-up with your submissions when allowed, be professional and courteous, and always remember you are asking someone to invest in you and your writing.
It’s the people that make the business side of writing the pleasure it can be. As writers, we are always working to build relationships with our readers but shouldn’t neglect those relationships that bring us to our readers, namely those we develop with other writers, literary agents, and publishers. If you’re reading this, chances are that you’ve already surrounded yourself with fellow writers. It’s the first step in getting your work out there, and the solid support group needed to survive the wilderness of querying.
Querying isn’t easy. It’s not supposed to be—it’s the step in the writing process that separates the writer from the hobbyist. It’s the first step in opening your work to criticism and learning how to accept that criticism—and the surest way to grow as a writer. Put your work out there. Forget the horror stories and prepare yourself to be amazed by the all the talent that exists within the world of writing and publishing.
As for my queries? Let’s just say it’s come to a happy ending. But that is another post all its own.