Thursday, January 10, 2013

How My Characters Would Query, and How Superman Sleds

Querying is an odd beast.

I send off e-mails, not knowing if they are even received (or are victim to the Spam Bot), and wait for a reply, not knowing if I will get one. I don't even know if the agent I queried is ever going to see my e-mail--I understand that some agents use interns to weed the in-box out.

I'm working over-time to put myself in the shoes of the agents, to understand why the system is what it is, but at the same time, some days I feel like I'm giving away my power.

Everyone copes differently with stress. Some queriers openly rage against the system. Some quietly hide the stress. Some do what is recommended and work on the next thing. Some alternate between all of the above.

Right now, I'm thinking about what my main characters would do:

Pete would create to-do lists to keep him on track. He would look at the puzzle of how to get an agent from all sides and come up with concrete, but out-of-the-box solutions. He would stay steadfast, systematic, and ignore the feelings of powerlessness.

Jeze would jump right in and pretend to bold and un-crushable. She would hide her insecurities behind attitude and blow through emailing agents like a bull in a china shop. She would face her fears unquestionably and query all the scariest agents first. :)

So, how am I doing it? I think I'm combining the two. I'm definitely ignoring the feelings, and some days, ignoring the fact that I am even querying. I am making lists and doing research, but I am also jumping out there. I'm probably making a bunch of mistakes. You know, because I'm human and just a little stressed about being vulnerable.

I am being methodical, but also pretending to be bold. I'm hoping the combination works for me.

I'm doing the hard work.

And rushing out there. 
I admit, the risk of querying can be a rush. :) Clearly, just sitting on the sled isn't enough thrill for Superman. 

And, if it doesn't work, there is always the next book. :)

How would your characters query? How do you?

We're going to be sledding until there's no more snow on the ground. :) Are you enjoying winter?


  1. "I am being methodical, but also pretending to be bold."

    Same here. (That's a great way of putting it, btw)

    I truly wish I could say I don't care about the whole Finding an Agent, Finding a Publisher, Getting Published part of the writing process, but I do. Very much so, in fact. That's what makes the querying part of the process so difficult -- all of the hard work that goes into writing a book gets cut off at the knees by a seemingly black hole of query email addresses. There is no balance of power -- it's all on their side.

    Like Jeze I've queried my top list agents first. The difference between us in that Jeze was moving non-stop and didn't have a lot of time to sit and ponder the incredible silence from those agent in her inbox. : )

    -- Tom

  2. LOL Tom! Love that you have context for Jeze. And poor, poor Jeze. Her maker was not kind in doling out obstacles for her. :)

    I have to treat querying like I treat other risks in my life--with the idea that the Universe/the-powers-that-be/God/the goddess Athena/leprechauns/whatever will nudge me in the right direction. I've seen too many coincidences in my life to not believe in a bit of magic.

    I believe in magic for you as well. Don't let the search get you down. (Or keep trying even when it does.)

    Hmmm. This all feels a little too preachy. Sorry. :) Thanks for being my "query buddy" right now.

  3. Hey Heather!

    I'm so glad to see you're querying and at least sending them out! It is so nerve-wracking to hit "send" on those query emails, and hope you don't get an immediate rejection. But, in some ways, I suppose that's better than never getting a response?

    I deal with querying by procrastinating! lol. Instead of sending out new queries, I constantly return to my novel, convinced that it's nowhere near good enough yet. And so, I have become a compulsive editor, tinkering with a product that is probably much more complete than I fear. (At least, I hope this is the case, privately, in the depths of my soul.) But I manage to convince myself, once again, that my novel is not quite ready, and I must edit (just one more time!) before I query. Unfortunately, this perfectionism works against me in terms of querying, since I hardly can get a response from the querying-void if I've not sent out a query in the first place!


  4. Kelsie--Hi! Yes, it feels good to be finally querying. But I totally get the hesitation. It's so hard to put our work out there. It took a couple of well-published critters to tell me things were ready before I decided to take the plunge.

    Maybe you should just send one out and see how it goes? There's a whole thread of writers "in the trenches" at Verla Kay's Blueboards. Safety in numbers, you know. In fact, I think I'm going to head over there myself. :)

  5. You've got get to the point (maybe after 5 or 10, or more, but you'll know) when you can just hit send and not feel so vulnerable. After close to 100 queries (give or take) in total over the years, I feel like I'm a bit of a glutton for punishment.

    Querying works...I'm living proof. Twice. :)

    Call me if you need any talking 'off the ledge'! xoxo Kris

  6. I'm querying, too but I'm also working on something else and I think that helps me send those queries off without any expectations attached. Plus I've done this before so I know how it works. Either I'll make that connection or I won't. The only thing I can do is write the best story possible and try to make my query show it. I'll cross my fingers for you :)

  7. Good luck with it all and let me know if you want me to look at your query. My characters would probably never query...they're much too involved with other things. :)

  8. As there are four of us, we have different querying styles. Lupe is the boldest. His queries are fearless but to the point. Hilde needs to get her courage up and query more often. Susan doesn't have a query out there at the moment. She makes lists and keeps responses and she too needs to get out there more ofter. But it is so discouraging sending into the stratosphere and never getting a reply. I'd rather have a rejection than a vacant space. At least I'd know where I was. Kris's Take on the writers life cycle is our post this week and I think you will enjoy it. It deals with query desperation.

  9. Kris--I loved how you jumped right back into the trenches this time around, and how it panned out for you! I also love your level head during this roller coaster ride. Thanks for being such a support!

    Marcy--"Either I'll make the connection or I won't." Sage attitude! Thanks for the finger crossing. I'll take all the fairy dust and luck I can right now!

    Anita--Ha. So true about the characters. I'll let you know if I need another set of FRESH eyes!

    Pen and Ink--Thanks for stopping by. I too would rather receive a "no" than nothing. I enjoyed the alphabet! Awesome.

  10. Fun! I love thinking about what your characters. Great exercise!

  11. Hi Heather--
    I'm just catching up on blogging. If you want a new set of eyes on anything at any point, send it my way! I think you have my email, right?
    I also just finished the querying journey so I'm still pretty good at knowing how to go about it and what resources are out there, and a little insight about what agents like what. Let me know if you want to pick my brain. Happy to share :)

  12. Querying is a strange mix of exciting and grueling.

  13. Kristen--Thanks for the offer. Fresh eyes are always welcome. It was great to catch up via email--we'll have to get-together irl sometime soon!

    Marcia--Thanks for the camaraderie. It's always good to know that others *get it*. And all I have to say is "querying!" :)