Friday, February 01, 2008

Is sending out queries hard for you too?

Here I am after two weeks of doing this and I have only sent out 8 queries to agents. What makes me so resistant to doing this? Is it fear of failure? Is it the work involved in figuring how who, when, where and what? Something stands between me and finishing this task. Is it hard for everyone or do you whizz through it? So many of their websites seem to chide you for bothering them. Or warn you. Some seem determined to reject you from the start. Are these people any nicer once they've taken you on?

12 comments:

Sandra Ruttan said...

I think a lot of it is fair warning - chances are slim. Depending on who you ask, 1-3% of writers querying are taken on. And the second part is to deter those who aren't very serious, to try to weed out the poor submissions before people send them in.

I think (perhaps) you and I are alike in having a very sensitive nature, and it makes us more nervous when faced with such tough talk. Depending on my mood, I'll read stuff like that and go cry, or I'll put my back up to the wall and get my 'f u' attitude in place. The latter is what enables me to press on for the occasional few moments when I'm not feeling completely depressed.

Truthfully, I can't remember the last time I submitted a short story for publication. I've had enough rejection in my life this past year - didn't feel like I needed more.

pattinase (abbott) said...

When I read your blog, I often think I could have written that. I steered away from things where I might fail my whole life. Glad you're not despite your nature.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

Short stories are easy. I burn my way through Kubler-Ross before they even go out the door.

But a book. Different beast. I'm just doing my research now and figuring out who I want to query and the idea of doing it makes me faintly nauseous.

Greg said...

I have a bizarre philosophy -- accept that there is no rhyme or reason to finding an agent, that research makes all the sense in the world but rarely pays off, and that it's impossible to know anything about the external factors that will ultimately land you an agent (specifically, what's going on with the agent the moment he or she considers your query). Which is why I believe in the Gatling Gun approach to queries -- starting with a giant list of successful agents who represent fiction, and then just firing them off in waves.

It's how I got my agents. With the first agent, I had sent a hard copy query & got a rejection slip, then I queried the agency's submission alias and got a form rejection and then I found the owner's email and reached him directly, and he signed me within a week (the other queries had never reached him). When I failed to revise way he'd expected, he dropped me. So I cranked up the Gatling again and found a great agent who likes humor, mysteries and the Raiders (all elements of the book), and this guy has stuck with me the whole way. No amount of research would've helped me find this guy at the right time and place (in fact, all my considerable research on agents had been fruitless). He's gruff and brief, and I sometimes end up waiting a while to hear back (same with the first guy), but Jeff always comes through with great feedback and advice (he's simply swamped, and I think we writers forget that we're just one of many clients these folks have. What's more, I still haven't earned this guy a dime).

As for rejections, it's a major part of the business. It's what they do all day. Nothing personal. That seemed to help me.

Hope this helps

Debra Broughton said...

I'm in the process of querying agents, and though I don't mind the rejection part any more, something still holds me back. I tell myself it's just the lack of stamps for return postage (I'm living in Holland but aiming at the UK market) but honestly, I could have solved that issue weeks ago. Getting on and doing it is the only cure, I'm afraid. But that's the hardest part.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks for all the advice. Another worry is one agent's web comments, that if I am sending this out everywhere I can just forget including him. What do these people expect? At a rate of one at at time, I would never live to see conclusion of soliciting agents much less publication.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Hi Debra.We lived in Amsterdam in 1997 and at the time I wrote poetry but it still was costly sending it out. And I don't understand what those international coupons are so I stay in the US although there's an agent I'd love to try in UK.
Doing it is the hardest part all right. I think it's because we trained ourself to spend our time writing at the expense of many other things. And this is one of the many other things.

Sophie said...

It gets easier....I did 81 agent queries last year, and I'm still looking.

I just keep writing new books. :) Every time I get a little closer, and the rejections sting a little less, and the whole thing gets a little easier.

You know, I suspect if we could be agents for a week, we would be a lot more easygoing about the process...

Debra Broughton said...

"...if I am sending this out everywhere I can just forget including him."
I don't see how an agent can complain about multiple queries. But when it comes to submitting full manuscripts, agents expect exclusivity. I've never had to worry about two agents wanting to see the whole novel at one time, but if it happens, the usual practice is to let agent A know that someone else is interested and offer to hold on sending to agent B for say one month.


"You know, I suspect if we could be agents for a week, we would be a lot more easygoing about the process..."

Absolutely.

pattinase (abbott) said...

A wonderful insight. It must be dreadful having people ask you for something you can't give them a dozen times a day. And wondering if one of the ones you turn away is the great American...

Bryon said...

I love the query process. It's the one part of the whole thing we have the most control over. I love getting the self addressed envelope backs, even if there's a rejection inside. It makes me feel like I'm really doing it, really working at being a professional writer. And I have ridiculously tough skin for this sort of thing, almost to the point of masochism.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I can tell you haven't been getting those self-addressed envelopes for the last ten years.