The World of Querying

Rainbow looking towards the rain
Image by kathleenjoyful via Flickr

The World of Querying

Traci Kenworth

 

Well, I’m about to take off in that direction soon again. All I have to do is wrap my manuscript up and get it out to betas with a pretty bow included for luck (just kidding). Except for the luck part. We all know what it’s like to anxiously send out those queries and hover over our emails, awaiting our manuscript’s fate. And it is the book’s fate, not ours. We don’t have to bog ourselves down in despair when things don’t go our way. It’s not us the rejection’s come for, it that single story.

That doesn’t mean that you won’t sell to another, or even that your career as an author is over. It simply means you’re starting out, paying your dues. It used to be commonly thought that you had to know someone in the business to be published. I can attest to many stories of writers who didn’t have so much as a connection to the person who handed the agent their coffee cup in the morning (if they didn’t get it themselves).

It all has to do with luck. And many prayers, in my opinion. We sweat over our stories, polish and re-polish them, and painstakingly spend hours trying to get the query (and the synopsis, for that matter) just right. There are many good websites that offer advice on the how-to. I, personally, love the two part series from QueryTracker. It explained them in a way I’d never quite thought of before.

For instance, you don’t leave out your key players (I’m not speaking, of course, of the hero and heroine here but the secondary characters), not ALL of them, mind you. You need to include another love interest if there’s a triangle, any protectors, your antagonist, etc. Anyone who plays an importance in the plot. Before I studied this, I was leaving out my other half of the triangle, as well as the villain for fear that they weren’t “telling” the agent much about the hero/heroine. Now I can see, without them, your query just kind of drags.

Another important piece of advice I received from one of my critique partners is to include what the protagonist wants. What lengths will they go to get it? And what happens if they fail? All of these are helping me to craft a, hopefully, rocking query. Am I nervous about querying? Absolutely. Everyone is. But you have to still the shakes and let your dream go. Who knows where it will lead?

Any other tips out there you feel are useful? How do you survive the jitters while waiting? Let’s talk.

8 thoughts on “The World of Querying

    1. I’m going to try my hand at short stories while I wait, I think, Vanessa. I hear, especially in the horror market, they’re easier to break into and help build a core audience. I watched a recent video chat with Ray Bradbury (the grandfather of horror and sf) and he said if you write 1 short story every week, at the end of the year, you end up with 52, and out of all those, not every one is going to be bad. He said if you DO write 52 bad, you’re in the wrong business. lol. I have 1 ready to go, just need to polish it.

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  1. When I’m waiting to hear back on a query, I write the date in my handy dandy spreadsheet so I won’t forget about it, then I try to forget about it by working on something else. I know that I want to sell more than one manuscript, so WHEN that first one hits the big time, I’ll want to have more material ready.

    And I agree that luck is a huge part of getting published. I don’t like it, but it’s true.

    Becca @ The Bookshelf Muse

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    1. Becca, short stories are in my little 3-week “vacay” from writing then I have a new story ready to go. I do actually have another book completed that I’m going to edit while I write the new one. I was just letting it germinate while I went back and wrote this one in first person. So, it should be interesting keeping up. 🙂

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