From the query trenches

When I first started querying Magestone/Snows of Sorrow back in March I had such naively optimistic confidence in my work that I thought I would be one of those people who sent out fifteen or twenty queries, had a bunch of interest off them, and ended up finding a home for the manuscript with an agent within a few months. There are people out there who have such luck with their projects. Unfortunately, it turns out I’m not one of them. Five months, five query versions, and sixty-five sent queries later, I’m still searching.

I laugh to think how I used to reassure myself, pre-querying, by JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer’s querying stories: they both sent out about 15 queries before they found an agent; even big names got rejections! Well, fifteen seems paltry now. I find myself turning to different stories for the reassurance that my numbers aren’t unusual and aren’t a reflection of the quality of my work. Jodi Meadows queried for a year and a half before landing her agent; her book Incarnate went to auction a few months later. Natalie Whipple sent out 200 queries over a couple of years to find her agent; she’s now got a two-book deal with a big-six publisher.

I really hope I don’t have to go through that long to find a home, but it is what it is. And in the meantime, all I have control over is writing the next project, which I’ve been doing, and continuing to query, which I’ve also been doing.

I recently got a rejection on a full manuscript I had out. The agent had requested the partial (50 pages) and then wrote back a couple weeks later asking for the full. I was stoked – she liked it and was interested in reading more! It was practically a sure thing! Well no, not really – that naivety again – but it was encouraging. As was her rejection letter, in which she said, “While you’re a talented writer, I’m afraid this story is not quite right for me.” The latter half of the sentence is agent-speak for “I didn’t fall asleep at night clutching my Kindle to my chest”, which is sort of the level of enthusiasm an agent needs to have for a manuscript to take it on, but the first part was really encouraging. She may not have loved it, but it was due to something subjective, not because it sucked. And subjectivity being what it is, another agent might (will?) feel differently and fall head over heels for it.

So I’m still in the query trenches, but they’re not quite so bleak at the moment. There’s hope yet for Magestone, and even if nothing comes of it, in perhaps a couple of months Secrets will be ready for querying, too; maybe the different setting and premise will catch more agents’ eyes. (My mom likes to say, of gardening, that even if things didn’t go as planned for the garden this year, there’s always next year, always hope for next time. And so it is; there’s always the next book.)

I love this recent post by Leigh Ann Kopans, as it talks about how there’s no single path through publishing, and what worked for one writer might not work for another. (Also, how long it took one writer might not be how long it takes another.) Worth a read, no matter where you are on the publishing line.

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