For my first official post I thought I’d talk about my experiences querying. I’m well aware that there are a million blog posts out there about the querying process, and I’m by no means an expert. However, I was in the querying game for a long time, and my path towards publication wasn’t straight forward. As such, I’m happy to share any tips and tricks I learned along the way.
As you may know, I recently signed with my new agent, the lovely and amazing Kathleen Rushall from Andrea Brown Lit, which is a total dream come true. Kathleen is everything a writer could want in terms of representation, but it was a long, LONG time coming. In case you couldn’t tell by the title of this post, Kathleen is my THIRD agent. Counting Kathleen, I received seven offers total after about one month of querying. BUT! Before you go thinking this process was a cake walk, it took me TEN YEARS of active querying multiple manuscripts to land my first agent, whom ended up leaving the business after four months. It then took me another year to find my second agent, Amy Tipton, whom I was with for one year before she also left the business to form her freelance editing service, Feral Girl Books. Luckily, Abrams/Amulet had bought my debut in the meantime, so I was incredibly fortunate in that respect.
Still, I couldn’t believe it. I had to query AGAIN? I had to reopen my Querytracker subscription for the third time, write a whole new query letter, make a new list, polish my new manuscript… My anxiety was through the roof just thinking about it!
And the rejections! The REJECTIONS! It was enough to make me cry. A lot.
Because here’s the thing that every writer knows, no matter how long you’ve been in the game, or what stage of the business you’re in: querying sucks. At times it feels dehumanizing, and any agent whom says “it’s not personal” is full of it, because it is personal: deeply personal.
But it’s a must in this industry, once again, I got to work. These are the steps that I followed:
Step one: Be ruthless
And here’s something very personal about my own experiences with rejection: the book that Abrams bought was a book that just about every agent rejected - nobody wanted it when I was sending it out. While the rejections piled up, I wrote another novel, and subsequently queried it, and THAT new manuscript was the one that got me my first two agents. Want to hear the ironic part, though? The book that received more interest from agents was not the book that sold to publishers: the book that sold in a two book deal was the one that didn’t get any agent love. Maybe it was timing, or the revisions that I did on it, or a combo of both. The bottom line is that you NEVER KNOW, and a manuscript is never really dead: it just might not be the manuscript that gets you representation. So take heart, be patient, and write the next beautiful thing.