Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Weekday Whisper

The Querying Funk
Like a few of you out there, I tend to get what I call The Querying Funk. Every one of us has a system to the way we query, and I'm not any different. I look at agent websites, peruse the most recent Writer's Market or Jeff Herman's Guide, and hop over to querytracker from time to time. I keep a personal list of all the agents I have queried and a separate one of those I plan on querying (I keep a list of the latter on my computer, so as not to confuse myself). 

After I've queried about four or five agents, I sit back and wait to see what they have to say. My most consistent feedback is that my work is "something special" or "highly marketable", but alas, we have no room for a new author. At this point, I go through my "funk".

We are told to grow a thick skin as budding authors, but that doesn't mean we still don't take a beating. Your self-esteem gets knocked around a bit with all the rejections, and besides, what can you do when they love your work but don't have time or space to take you on? Nothing, I suppose, except to move on to the next agent on your list.

My "funk" lasts about a month and then I start in again. In the meantime, I'm always working on my next project, occasionally entering a contest, and keeping in mind that when the time is right, that door will open. As we speak, I'm emerging from a time of hibernation and setting foot in the querying world once more. I want to get a few sent out before the end of this month because, as one agent told me, agencies tend to get bombarded by queries in December and January for a mixture of reasons (primarily because NaNoWriMo is in November and because people finally have time to get to querying at the end of the year. Go figure!).

How about you? Do you find yourself in The Querying Funk from time to time, or perhaps you just push on through? What kind of process do you go through to keep yourself motivated?


  1. I feel for you. Believe it or not in Oz we don't have to get an agent first, publishers will read your MS. You get an agent if you are offered a contract.

    Entering contests is good. A much-published writer friend wrote for 20 years before she finally broke into Avon Books. What pushed her over the line was that she had won or been highly commended in several prestigious writing contests.

    So brush yourself off, enter contests, and soldier on (it is Rememberance Day in the Northern Hemisphere - it is now the day after here!)

    Here's to true grit..:)

  2. Thanks for your words of encouragement, L'Aussie. And here's to all the brave souls out there fighting for freedom or have already been through the battle!

  3. It's always frustrating when you hear, we like you but....

    You just have to keep searching for that perfect match. Every rejection is one step closer to finding the right agent or publisher...(at least that's what I keep telling myself).

    Best Wishes!

  4. Sounds like you're getting good feedback for your work (at least!) I don't think it will be long before you get an agent ;)

  5. A friend of mine mentioned yesterday over lunch that when we walk into a bookstore, we know and think about the books we like. But think about all of the books we don't like. They may not be poorly written or ghastly, but they're just not what we read. I think it's similar in the writer/agent search. It's a flawed system- as all are- and the weight of the wound lands on the author. But is it a true wound? Or is it just statistics? Munchies for thought. A huge cup of encouragement for all fellow writers, out there. And especially for you, Mary Mary, as you fire off another round of queries. I shipped out 19 this week, a few with more hope and expectation than others. We shall see, in time, what will come of the seeds we plant.

    Chin up, comrades!

  6. just keep at it and one day it will all click, u could also try sending your work to publishing houses too every one has a slightly different path to success and some pub houses accepted unagented subs.

  7. Sharon -- I agree, every rejection is one step closer to where you'll eventually end up.

    Thanks Aurora and the Divine Lorena (☺) for your feedback. It's true what you say, Aurora, about a different taste for every reader and writer. I find it irritating when agents/editors tell me historical isn't selling right now, but then I enter a bookstore or look at bestseller lists for the week and think, what a crock! If they're not selling, then why are people buying and reading them?

    Joanna -- thanks for your input. I keep an open mind to publishing houses, but unless it's a small publishing house (meaning not one of the major ones) they won't even open an unsolicited manuscript. Of course, I can take the small publishing route, but that's just as tricky and, in many cases, harder, since they take on so few new authors each year. I've tried a couple, but I'll look into it more.

    ♥ Mary Mary

  8. This is a hard one. And the querying funk is horrible. I know it well. It's so difficult to want to keep on going after many rejections, but it's often said (and it's undoubtedly true) that many a published author got there because of a combination of talent, craft, and PERSISTENCE.

    My only tip in making it easier to keep going is to assume in advance that you will receive a large number of rejections, and have a correspondingly large list of agents ready to query. I had a round one list of 25 agents, and when I had done those queries over a period of a few months, I made a second list with another 30 or so agents and I was all set to start a new round of queries. I told myself I wouldn't stop querying this particular novel until I'd exhausted the entire second list, which would have been close to 60 queries in total.

    I was extremely fortunate - one lovely agent put me out of my misery before I got to the second round of queries...but I was fully prepared to fail to find a home for my first novel, and had already started another one. Keep multiple eggs and multiple baskets in play, and any one rejection will seem like exactly what it is - a mere blip on a very busy screen.

    Good luck - and keep the faith!

  9. Adina -- thank you for your advice. Persistence is the key. I agree in querying until your "list" is DOA, hopefully getting lucky before the last name. I am persistent, and I plan on going until I've exhausted all my avenues. Thanks for your encouragement!

    ♥ Mary Mary

  10. Unfortunately I think funks go with the territory. But I think it is so encouraging you are getting "positive" rejections -- it means you are on to something. You just need to find that right person and set of circumstances for them to say yes. My fingers are crossed for you.

  11. Thanks for your encouragement, Bluestocking! It's always helpful to have others who believe in what you are attempting to accomplish.

    ♥ Mary Mary


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