Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Update From The Query Trenches: Like a Deer in Freaking Headlights

Tell me peeps, did any of you find yourself completely paralyzed by your sophomore attempt at querying?

Because that's where I'm at with queries right now. This weekend, I fully intended to do a mass query unleashing a la my lovely CP Leigh Ann. But when it came right down to it, you know how many I sent?

Four. Bringing my grand query total up to 9.

I know. Someone reign me in, right?

I'd like to say I don't know what happened, but I do. I'm scared crapless this time around. With my last novel, I could blame the rejections on my inexperience or my just-okay query letter. But this time I'm querying a project I really believe in, and the rejections (yes, 4 out of 9 have already form R'd me) feel so much more personal, and so much more devastating.

Especially when 2 out of the 4 R's came from agents who'd requested material on my last novel, and the other two came from agents claiming to specifically want a story like the one I've written.

So of course, the idea of sending out more has me frozen in fear. Nightmarish images of a 0% request rate dance in my head, and whenever I try to query, I wind up blinking at the computer screen like a deer in freaking headlights.

Is it just a sophomore slump, or am I crazy?


  1. I can't speak specifically to your case, but the general wisdom is: If you aren't getting requests, then you need to take a close look at your query. Maybe something about the query needs to change in order to hook the agents' interest.

  2. What Dianne said. And I do understand that fear, and I see no need for you to send out massive amounts of queries at a time. I queried my ms (yes, it was my second) over a six month period, revising according to agent feedback as I went along, and got my agent in the last round of queries (along with a few other offers). There's no rush, no point in sending out a massive wave unless you're already getting a solid request rate and know you've got something "hot." Otherwise--take your time. Don't be afraid to send them out, but pay attention to your request rate and any feedback you're given. AND GOOD LUCK!!

  3. Hey, it's a picture of me. I'm in the query trenches now. I've had a lot of moments of self doubt, but fortunately I have ton of support from writer friends who've read the book, plus I have a query buddy. She's the only one I share my rejections with. We like to cheer each other on.

    I've sent our 40 queries since December first, and have had 8 requests, 2 rejections on those (but nothing specific for me to change), and a revision request (part of which I agreed with, and the other part which left me scratching my head what to do since she hadn't read the entire book, in case I wanted to resubmit it. She didn't want to ruin the ending. But if she had read the book, she would have understood why it started where it did. Sigh.)

    The best thing to do is send your queries in small batches, and like Dianne and Sarah said, evaluate if the rejections are due to the query, sample pages, or you've targeted wrong individuals (which is hard to know until you get the rejection).

    Good luck!!!!

  4. I totally feel your pain, Gina! I'm having the same issues myself. I stare and stare at QueryTracker and can't make myself send any more queries after my first push and flurry of R's! The prob is you never do know what the issue is - you or them. I'm going to go with them since I've read your query :)

    Just take a deep breath and if mass querying doesn't work for you, pick 4 or 5 and have them constantly rotating - get an answer, send another out. It'll be ok! We'll get through this!

  5. I would definitely wait to send more. I know it's agonizing, but you'll be better informed as to whether the query is working then.

  6. The thing is, you have no way of knowing what about your query is NOT working when you only have Form Rs. And agents are so busy these days that they're even sending form Rs on submissions.

    Sarah's right, there's no rush (I just like to pull the bandaid off faster!) Just do the best job you can. If you know you're doing that, then there's nothing more *to* do.

    Oh. And LYM rules. But we all already knew that. <3

  7. Keep on sending them! You believe in your book, and there has to be an agent for it. I always have to remind myself that this business is subjective--what works for one agent doesn't always work for all of them. Good luck!

  8. I know it's typical to send them out in batches of, say 10. And I don't recommend starting with just "anyone" who reps your genre. If you query agents who don't have a strong interest in your genre/novel, they'll likely come back as rejections. Then you start second guessing the query and try to fix something that might not be broken.

  9. There's really nothing I can add to all this advice! Except, LYM is awesome, definitely don't doubt that <3

  10. Hmmm... If it's a project you really believe in, I think the querying should be easier... It was for me, because my sophomore attempt was going to be "the one." I believed in my book that much. And as the rejections came in, I just kept sending more. I'd think, "That's not the agent for me. I'll find the agent for me, because this book is THE ONE."

    And you know what? It was.

    Get your query to 100%. Get your MS to 100%. And then start sending those queries! If it's "the one" you believe in, that you'll take to small presses and even publish yourself if you have to, you'll find an agent who feels the same way you do.

    But not if you don't query them... ;)

  11. I have a similar paralysis. It manifests itself in a number of ways, but chiefly procrastination.

    But then I think, yes, BE scared. Be scared of failure and where that failure might lead - like to a job I hate for the rest of my life. Then the fear turns back upon itself, into a kind of fuck-you determination.

    I'm currently in those trenches with you.
    Good luck.