Query Struggles

There's nothing quite like starting a Monday morning and opening up your email to find yet another message from a literary agent saying:  "Thanks for sending me your query, however..."

Photo by mactrunk/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by mactrunk/iStock / Getty Images

For roughly three years, I worked on my novel. Writing, rewriting, filling in plot holes, cutting 50k words, adding more words, outlining, sending it out to beta readers... repeat. To be perfectly honest, I'm sure there's even more work to do. But, there is a certain point where you have to try to put down the pen and see where it goes.

So, I wrote a query letter. And another and another and another, until it was all nice and pretty and clean and polished. I had done my research and a big spreadsheet was saved in Google Docs with all of the agents I wanted to send letters to and their submission guidelines. I followed them on Twitter and visited their pages. Everything was set to go and I clicked "send."

I knew the reality of the querying process. I'd heard enough authors talk about it and read enough articles and listened to enough podcasts to know that it is long, hard, and frustrating. Some authors spend over 10 years querying before they get a book sold. Maybe even more. 

But there's always that thought in the back of your head "but it could happen now..."

That thought goes away really quickly after a couple months and your inbox is full of "thanks but no thanks" messages. 

Honestly, I've been fortunate with these emails. I haven't had a single person tell me "you're a terrible writer" or "you need to practice more" or "don't quit your day job." While all of the replies have been short, they've also been encouraging. Things such as "you're a great writer, this just isn't the story for me." I even had one say while this book wasn't for them, they'd be open to having me send them a future project if the opportunity arises. They all tell me to keep going and they're cheering for me.

Which is wonderful and encouraging.

But it also really sucks.

Because I love this story. I love these characters. I want other people to love it too. And while I know it isn't an agent's job to give critiques... this doesn't help me in knowing what I need to improve on so the next time I can do better.

A couple months ago I listened to Lauren Graham's (Lorelai Gilmore) audiobook "Talking As Fast As I Can" where she shares her journey to Gilmore Girls and her acting career. There was one quote which stuck out to me when she was talking about being a young actress going out on auditions.

Am I just paying my dues? Or is this all the beginning of what's to be a waste of my time?

Okay... that's not an exact quote. I couldn't find the exact one online to copy and paste... but you get the idea.

Even if I do someday get an agent and one of my books is published, I'm okay with it never being a best seller or making millions of dollars (or even thousands...) off of it. I just want other people to read it. 

I have thought about self-publishing. In fact, not long ago I talked to a friend of mine who used to design covers for a self-publishing company. She said if I do decide to go that route she'd be happy to design my cover for me and to help me research the best ways to go about it. Which is wonderful, and I know there are tons of authors who self-publish and do great work and are successful. 

Yet, I also know my strengths. Marketing is not one of them. I don't want to set myself up for failure. 

I've also thought about if the traditional publishing thing doesn't work out, I could just put my book out there on Wattpad. I have an account, but I haven't posted anything there yet because once you do, that particular story isn't able to be traditionally published.

If the point is just to get the book out there and let people enjoy it, then these are great options. 

I'm in no way giving up on my querying and publishing journey. I have a whole list of agents to send this book out to still, and if this one doesn't work out - while I'll be heartbroken - I'll move onto the next book and either self-publish/post on Wattpad this current one.

But... the struggle is real my friends. Lately, when people have been asking me about my writing, I haven't wanted to talk about it. Or, if I do want to talk about it, all I'll do is whine and complain about how it's hard. 

So, for those of you who have been wondering how it's going... there it is. I'm sure it's going to be going this way for awhile because that's simply how the querying process is. Hopefully, I will be able to update everyone with something more exciting and positive... someday.

For now, it's waiting. And sending out letters. And revising letters. And trying not to think about it.