Queries and Confidence: Rules for the Query Process

You may have sensed a little radio silence on the blog lately, and I’ll admit I’ve been busy. My next two projects are coming together, and I’ll soon have to choose which one to devote myself to for the rest of the year. I’ve also taken the time to join the Rocky Mountain Writers Association to expand my contacts and critique circle.

Publishing continues to be a scary game right now, as Jenny Rappaport relays, and more than a few agents are closed to queries, particularly from debut authors. It’s not a good time for trying to break in. The query process can be intimidating, and it requires just the right grip on your work: you have to believe in your book, but also you have to know when editing is required.

Despite all the doom and gloom, I’m optimistic about my writing. I’m hopeful about Eastlight’s chances, and weirdly enough, I get excited when I’m researching my queries.

Rejection is a powerful motivator, if you take it right. You can choose to go hide from the process (and I’ll confess that starting my day by reading up on the state of Publishing is a powerful motivator to fire up the Playstation and avoid reality), or you can rally and use the frustration as fuel to get more queries out there.

All this engagement with the query process has led me to some personal rules:

1. It only takes one yes: don’t give up and query widely.
2. Rejections are normal and the nature of the game.
3. The sooner you query, the sooner you sign (don’t let the process get you down).

The one caveat as always, is the balance: your work has to be ready. You have to have it in the most polished, professional state you can. With few exceptions, regardless of genre, you can only query an agent once for a book.

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