Don’t Let Querying Kill Your Muse

Feb 11, 2014 by

Query Letters

Query Letters

Let’s talk honestly about querying . . .

Anyone who has ever queried an agent or publisher can tell you it is very, very, very hard work, and—for most of us—also very disheartening. The time-consuming, difficult process involves:

  1. Researching the right agents for your novel
  2. Reading the submission guidelines at every agency
  3. Crafting a personalized letter for each agent
  4. Keeping track of the agents who you’ve queried
  5. Waiting, waiting, waiting . . . and waiting
  6. Deal with rejection
  7. Repeat (unless you’re one of those super fortunate few who succeed the first time. If you are: Congratulations!!)

Most of the mechanics are simple—if time consuming—except of course: step 3. The meat of the query, that sweet and thrilling blurb that will make every agent and publisher want your novel, can take many, many days to write and perfect.

All of that aside, step 5 and 6 are what can take the biggest toll, and where any air-breathing, blood-pumping author might run the risk of sending their muse into permanent retirement.

There is only so much rejection a person can take before they start questioning their worth. We all know it isn’t personal; agents can’t represent every single person; publisher can’t publish every single book; it is the nature of the business. There are many valid and reasonable explanations.

Yet, the inevitable thoughts will enter our minds: Is there something wrong with my writing? Is the plot weak? Are my characters good enough? . . . and maybe at some point . . . Am I cut out to be a writer? Should I just give up?

I can’t help but wonder how many amazing stories will never be read. How many authors have given up—people who have what it takes and then some, people who just needed to try a little harder, a little longer. Because getting published is a marathon, not a sprint . . . and not for the faint of heart.

Lucky for this marathoner, we live in a wonderful time, full of opportunities for those who aren’t willing to give up. People like me who killed the rejection blues by self-publishing and, with that decision, also killed the doubt and second guessing. Many readers like my books—love them, even. They think that I can spin a good story and my words make the page exciting. I don’t have to wonder anymore. Hallelujah! Self-publishing was a liberating decision—one that saved my muse and made querying less desperate and less essential. I still query and I still hope for a traditional contract. I just don’t think life depends on it anymore ;)

[Image attribution: Photo by Daniel Borman, used under CC/ No changes]

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