Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thoughts on Querying

In honor of finishing Bob’s revision (yay!), I thought I’d share a few random thoughts on querying. This is what’s been bouncing around in my head of late.

“What’s the worst thing that could happen?” I ask myself this sometimes when I don’t want to do something, or when I’m afraid to do it. Sometimes the answer still isn’t very pretty (“Well, if I drive to the doctor’s office by myself, I might crash in the gorge and die a spectacular, horrific death”), but in the case of querying, the answer’s really not so bad. The worst thing that could happen is that every agent passes and I’m still right where I am. But where I am is good (I have a great family and a great life), so I could live with that. And if I could live with it, then I probably don’t need to be terribly afraid of it.

“Whatever you do, don’t settle.” I recently exchanged some e-mails with an online writing friend who had just received an offer of representation. Exciting, right? Well, it was exciting, but the thing was, the offering agent wasn’t one she’d queried (another agent at the agency had passed her manuscript off to this agent), and the offering agent had never sold anything in the same genre as this friend’s manuscript. When it came right down to it, even though the offering agent was a reputable agent with a good history of sales in another genre, this friend simply didn’t feel good about signing with the agent. “I want an agent for my whole career,” she said, “not just this one manuscript.” I couldn’t agree more.

At this point in my writing career, not having an agent doesn’t really scare me (see “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”). After all, I’ve gotten really good at not having an agent. What WOULD scare me is having an agent I wasn’t comfortable with, or an agent who was only interested in one of my manuscripts and not my full body of work, or any agent who wasn’t the right agent for me. Now I realize things change and it’s not unusual for perfectly respectable agents and perfectly respectable authors to end up parting ways, but going in, I want to feel like the relationship is going to last.

“Enjoy the ride on this crazy query-go-round, and don’t worry so much about how everyone else’s ride is going.” Another online writing friend--one of my critique partners, in fact--recently received an offer of representation, but in this particular case, the offering agent was absolutely perfect. My friend was so excited about this agent that she almost didn’t want to bother with contacting the others to let them know about the offer. (But this friend did still contact the other agents, because she knew you always, ALWAYS give the other agents considering your work a chance to make a competing offer.) She ended up signing with this agent, and I couldn’t have been happier for her. Honestly. But I probably wouldn’t have been human if I hadn’t felt that teeny, tiny twinge of jealousy.

I didn’t indulge the twinge, mind you. I didn’t take it out to brunch or feed it bonbons or generally give it the impression that I wanted it to hang around. Instead, I reminded myself that my friend’s journey is not my journey and that just because something wonderful happened to her doesn’t mean the same wonderful thing won’t someday happen to me. And after a while, the twinge of jealousy went away. Now I’m just waiting, waiting, waiting for that someday to arrive:)

Well, that’s it from me. What thoughts have you had lately, querying, writing, or otherwise?


Sierra Gardner said...

I'm definitely a 'what's the worst that can happen' kind of girl. Usually I realize that I could pretty easily handle the worst case scenario, which means I can definitely handle anything better that happens =) As for querying, my MS is so far from being done that I haven't thought too much about it. I figure I'll cross that bridge when I come to it!

Read my books; lose ten pounds! said...

Not setteling is some of the best advice that can be given!

Connie said...

You have a great attitude. You have to write because you love the writing because there are no guarantees in this business.

Ben Spendlove said...

There are days I'd sign with a plumber who just decided to live his dream and become a literary agent the day before. Those are the "I'm a bad writer" days.

Other days, I'd hold out for a six-figure advance. Actually, that's gone up to seven. Inflation, you know? (Ego inflation.)

I like to think I'm rational on most days.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

Great attitude. Good luck with querying again! Crossing my fingers for you! :D

Kristin said...

Great post, Krista! Even better attitude. :) Will bookmark to come back to later, knowing I'm not alone.

Shallee said...

Thank you for sharing these thoughts-- they're similar to the thoughts I've had as I query. One thing I've thought is if I don't get an agent with my current book, that's okay! I'm still writing, and I still love it. So I'll query the next book!

Perri said...

Thanks so much, Krista. This post couldn't have come at a better time for me. After futzing with my query for too, too long. I'm starting the actual process.

I'll keep 'What's the worst that can happen' in mind when the rejections start rolling in.

Esther Vanderlaan said...

You're doing a great job, seriously. Don't lose heart. You CAN do it. Don't meditate on 'What's the worst that can happen'. ;)

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

I must remember that: "What's the worst that can happen?" So true.

Thanks, Krista!


Krista V. said...

Sierra, definitely no need to rush. The best part of writing is still, you know, the writing:)

So true, Read my books. Not all agents are created equal, and not every agent is right for every writer. I think this is one of those times when it pays to be picky.

I try to have a good attitude, Connie. Some days are better than others... :)

You're so right, Ben - being a writer has so many ups and downs. Good thing I like to ride roller coasters:)

Thanks, Chantele. I can use all the finger-crossing that I can get!

Thank you, Kristin. Your kind words mean a lot.

Exactly, Shallee! There's always the next one, right? Right!

Perri, congratulations! Way to take the leap! And yeah, when it comes to querying, the worst thing that could happen really isn't all that terrible. Sure, we mope and maybe even cry a little, but I'm pretty sure everything will even out in the end.

Thank you for your burst of confidence, Esther. You always have such a positive attitude.

You and me both, Amy:) And you're welcome!

Liesl said...

Only those who have ridden the query-go-round can understand how emotionally trying it is. I admire your strength and perseverance.

Three cheers for Bob!

Suzanne Warr said...

Great thoughts! And while I'm tempted to get a little more creative with my 'what's the worst that can happen' and start scaring myself, I see your wisdom and will refrain. Because, you know, there's no need to take this one worst thing and extrapolate it into an apocalyptic nightmare with my kids as the target. Mere tragedy is probably far enough. ;)

I'm going out on query myself next week (technically the first partial has been sent) for the second time, on a novel I've been rewriting for the last year. I wish you luck, luck, luck, and hope we both find ourselves overwhelmed with interested agents!

Rebecca said...

Great advice! Especially the bit about not worrying about how everyone else's ride is going. I've felt that familiar twinge of jealousy a couple times before, but I'm still managing to enjoy my own ride.

Myrna Foster said...

Ha! I've played that crash in the gorge scenario, but I don't know what to think about querying. I do hope you find an agent just right for you.

Krista V. said...

I don't know about strength, Liesl, but I have perseverance in spades. I laugh in the face of rejection. I love beating my head against a proverbial brick wall:)

Good, good, good, good luck right back at you, Suzanne. Sounds like you're already doing things right, if you've already nabbed your first partial request. Congratulations, and keep at it!

Good for you, Rebecca! I hope the querying and writing are going well.

Myrna, the funny thing is, I feel so comfortable in the gorge these days; it's all those out-of-towners I don't trust:) They insist on driving eighty on the straightaways - what few of them there are - and about forty-five on the curves. The truth is, you could easily take the whole gorge at about seventy, but that's probably only if you're familiar with the twists and turns. Sigh. At least Honey Bear's the one who's driving most of the time.

erica and christy said...

Krista, that's a really good outlook. I've enjoyed (that might be the wrong word, sorry) reading about your journey. Remembering that the worst thing is that we got to do exactly what we want to do (live our lives and write) us perfect, so thank you.

Now, the BEST thing?? That's a whole new animal...good luck!

Stephanie Thornton said...

Fabulous outlook for taking the plunge into the querying waters!

And you're definitely right--don't ever settle!

Laura Pauling said...

I love that questions - what's the worst thing that could happen. We'll be exactly where we are now and for me that means a healthy family and friends.

Kristine Asselin said...

Great attitude! And you're absolutely right! Good luck with the new round.

Monica B.W. said...

YAY!! congrats about finishing the revisions!! :D Good luck with this second round of querying--I have a good feeling about it! <3

Carol Riggs said...

Congrats to you for finishing your revisions! Ha, had to laugh that you said you'd gotten really good at not having an agent. ;o) Yep, I can relate to doing that.

And YES, you don't want just any agent--it's too cool having a perfect match, as I'm discovering in the few weeks I've been with mine. Best of luck to ya!

Lucy V Morgan said...

I think a lot of the querying process is about learning. All too often, you don't start to learn about publishing until you start to query, and then it's a bit late. I feel a lot better about querying my next work despite not getting an agent for my current one simply because I've become so much better at targeting and tailoring. I had more requests at the end of my journey than at the beginning.

"I've become very good at not having an agent," heh. I lol'd.

Krista V. said...

Erica, thanks for the comment. And thanks for hanging around throughout this journey of mine. It's nice to have the support.

Thanks for the encouragement, Stephanie!

Laura, it does make a difference when you realize the so-called worst really isn't all that bad. We all have so much to be grateful for. Landing an agent and getting a book deal would just be a nice bonus, albeit a pretty big one:)

Thanks, Kristine! I can always use the luck:)

Monica, I sure hope you're right:)

Carol, CONGRATULATIONS! I hopped over to your blog and saw that you just signed with Kelly Sonnack. She's a fabulous agent at a fabulous agency. Way to go!

Lucy, you're so right - there is such a learning curve when it comes to querying. I can testify that the second manuscript went better than the first, and the third's gone way better than the second. I'm hoping the third time's the charm!

Darke Conteur said...

I'm glad you're thinking that way. Sure, it's a little disheartening to read a rejection, but think positive!

Krista V. said...

Yeah, Darke Conteur, I'd much rather be positive than negative, although some days give me a run for my money... :)