Monday, June 25, 2012

Let's talk about querying

Lots of people give out advice on querying. Some of that advice is very good...and some is very bad. My take is just that--my take--but as I googled every form of query advice I could find when I queried, I thought I should put out my own little list. So here goes:

  1. You know that you can't query an unfinished manuscript. What you may not know is that your finished manuscript is nowhere near "finished." It's not even in the same ballpark as "finished." To try to get it closer to that sparkly word, I strongly suggest that when you finish your book you let it sit for no less than 2 weeks. Revise (I focus on plot/story first). Make sure there are no holes. Wait two weeks. Revise again (I focus on character with the 2nd revision). Wait 2 weeks. Read the entire book and make notes. Then clean up your prose. Send the MS to at least two readers. Wait until you receive their feedback to revise again, and when you do revise, pay attention to what they suggested. Then send the newly revised MS to two different readers. Receive their feedback and revise again. Then read the MS again, making notes of any issues. Only once you've reached this point, in my opinion, should you start querying.
  2. Treat your query letter with respect. It should be written and revised and perfected as much as your MS. It is important. And I feel the query should be hook-ish. You need the query to represent your book, your voice, and it needs to hook the agent/editor into reading your sample pages. You want the agent/editor excited, not confused, not bored. Excited!
  3. Work in small batches when you begin querying. You've heard this before, but it is all too easy to get greedy when you receive a request.
  4. Be patient and respectful. You are making a name for yourself at this early stage of your career. Don't blow it by being over aggressive and letting your frustration control you. Querying is brutal. I've been there! But keep it in perspective. It isn't death.
  5. Don't grow too attached to any one agent. There are lots of agents out there. Make sure to tailor your query list to those that represent your genre and the type of writer you hope to become. But just because Jodi Reamer rejected you doesn't mean your career is over.
  6. Realize now that the book you are querying may not be "the" book. And that's okay. I'm not suggesting you give up. I'm not suggesting you write something new every time things get hard. I am suggesting that you always keep yourself moving forward. Above all else, know that writing is a long journey. Very few authors get there easily, and honestly, the stories that impress me the most are always the authors that worked and worked and worked to gain success.
  7. Ask questions and learn. Improve yourself with each project, with each query, with each new step.
  8. Having "an" agent is not the same thing as having the "right" agent. You don't want to sign with someone just because that is the only person who offered. Sign because you trust that agent and his/her reputation. Sign because the conversation you had at 9 p.m. after you'd worked all day was easy, comfortable. Sign because it feels like the right thing to do. Don't sign just because you feel you have no other choice.
  9. Small presses do not = giving up. I should know. :) I have been very fortunate with GRAVITY so far. Entangled is wonderful. Readers seem excited. My Goodread's numbers are on track with some of the biggest books releasing this year. None of that would have happened if I thought small presses were beneath me. Again, trust your instincts.
  10. Have fun! This is your passion. It shouldn't be miserable. You shouldn't be crying more than you're laughing. It should be fun! Enjoy the journey--every single step.

1 comment:

  1. <3 <3 <3 <3 Will totes keep this in mind if I ever finish my WIPs