The Starving Novelist
Ahh . . . it seems like it was only yesterday I was sending my very first query out into the cold, cold world; with nothing but a hope and a wish to keep it warm.  Oh, the memories . . . 

Seven months later, litters upon litters of queries have been thrown out into the world to fend for themselves, and just a couple of weeks ago, I entered the realm of triple digits.  Yes, I have sent out over 100 queries (I will not say how much over, because I do need to maintain some dignity).  Admission is the first step, right?  I actually felt embarrassed and ashamed at first, like I was some kind of loser who “couldn’t get the hint” (self-deprecation at it’s finest).  However, when a member (Raven1- maybe you know her?  If not, she’s QT’s own resident cheerleader) recently congratulated me on reaching this milestone, it caused me to re-evaluate the situation.  Hmm . . . maybe it wasn’t something to be ashamed of.  It’s not like I just randomly sent out 100 queries in one fell swoop.  Those queries are a representation of hours, upon hours, upon hours of hard work and determination.  Not to mention, I’ve read plenty of success stories from people who got offers of representation after hitting the 100 milestone.  So maybe this is something to be proud of after all.

How did the number get so high? 

First of all, can I just say this whole ‘send out about ten at a time to see if your query is working’ philosophy is a bunch of phooey?  Theoretically, it does make sense, but realistically?  Not so much.  More and more agents are switching to the “no response means no” rule, and those who do respond either (a) do so with a vague form letter and/or (b) take forever to respond.  I think twenty queries at a time seems more appropriate (especially if this is your first time querying a novel).  If after about three weeks you haven’t gotten a single request, then you know for a fact your query isn’t working. 

My query wasn’t the greatest at the beginning, but it was good enough for me to get a submission request here and there.  To make a long story short, it took me sending out seventy queries (and several sub rejections) before I’d gotten enough feedback to realize my ms needed revising. 

After three months of revising, I was ready to jump back into querying.  Needless to say, after about two months of being back, I’ve easily surpassed the 100 mark. 

Why keep going?

This is my first novel, and if I’d quit after 20 queries, I would’ve been doing myself a huge disservice.  It’s very likely this novel will end up getting trunked, but it’s been a HUGE learning experience, and I don’t regret one second of it.  I’ve learned so much by putting this project out there.  For example, if I had quit early on in the process, I would’ve never known that my dialog has a tendency to sound “choppy,” or that I really need to be careful not to bog down my beginning with back-story.  These have all been invaluable lessons that I would’ve never learned had I given up fifty queries ago.  My next project will surely benefit from the hard work I put into this first novel.  I hope.
3/29/2011 08:34:16 pm

I think the trick is to keep pushing with a query. There may be loads of reasons why an agent rejected or didn't get back.

Keep going, this is definitely the way to be doing things!

I'm excited about getting to that point, albeit very nervous!

Jet x

3/29/2011 10:51:36 pm

Hi Jet,
Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Yes, there are a lot of reasons why an agent doesn't respond or rejects. That's why I think the '10 query rule' is a bad one. A lot of agents know exactly what they're looking for (or at least NOT looking for) in a specific genre, so even if you have a top-notch query, you can still get rejected.

Again, thanks for stopping by, and good luck on your road to getting published!

3/30/2011 09:25:48 am

Hi! This is MarianLee from QT. 100 queries is nothing, don't sweat it. And hell, that's only for your first book! It's not even worth a thought until you get to 500 at least!
In all seriousness though, I was at 75 queries out when I got my offer, and I had over thirty more waiting to go out. The way I look at it, the higher the number - the greater your perseverance and devotion. You've got the right attitude which is half the battle. Keep querying, keep working on your next book, and keep the faith!

3/30/2011 11:20:41 am

Hi Marian! I know you- I visit your blog from time to time ;o) Thanks for stopping by! Yes, I will keep querying until I've queried every agent that reps my genre (and the genre of my WIP ;o) Thank you for your kind words of encouragement, and good luck to you on your journey to publication!!

4/1/2011 07:10:23 am

Happy one hundredth, my twitter pal! Keep going, and keep writing while you're at it. I get the feeling it won't take you long to get there, because you're productive, and a smart cookie to boot.

4/1/2011 07:21:38 am

Awww, shucks *blushes*. You are too sweet, Anita. Thank you for your kind words :o)


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