The (real) Query Process... and how not to go insane while refreshing your inbox
Here I am, my second visit to Queryland, just a little wiser than the first. Once again I find myself experiencing the nausea inducing compulsive "inbox refresh." So in order to share my misery with the world, I thought I would write a list of how this query process goes… for all of you who haven't had the pleasure of the experience.Here it is in 10 easy steps:1) Pour your heart into a manuscript for months or years. This is key to heightening the query experience.2) Decide that you are ready to query! Now is when the crazy starts.3) Get a spreadsheet and make a list of every agent you want to query. Check who is looking for new authors in Guide to Literary Agents and who has sold books in your genre in Publishers Marketplace. In your spreadsheet include contact info and leave some columns to keep track of when you sent the query and when you received their responses.4) Spend a million hours on Google researching "how to write a query letter," "query letter examples," "best query letters ever," "the query letter that sold my book."5) Write the query letter. Make sure that your letter will not end up in the Slush Pile Hell Tumblr. 6) Go to a writers conference and participate in a query critique, query panel, query pitch session… Please find someone to read your letter before you hit send.7) Try to make sense of all the contradictory advice you received. Good luck with this one!8) Now that you have an awesome query letter, it's time to send it! Pick some 10-15 agents and send out your first round of queries. Yeay you did it! Go out and have ice cream or non-fat yogurt! Or both! Make sure your friends know you are still alive! Do a happy dance!!!9) Now comes the hard part…. finding something else to do. No, seriously. Stop refreshing your inbox. Stop spying on agent/editor's Twitter feeds. Just plain STOP. I have an idea! Why don't you start working on something else? Like a new book :)10) One day you refresh the inbox and you find a REPLY! OMG Holy Crap! Someone answered my query! Here is a list of possible responses:
a) I loved your query and your book and I want to sign you up right now! You don't have to make any changes and it is perfect just the way you first wrote it. (This is what I imagined the first response would be like.)
b) I loved your query and I would like to read the manuscript. (This is fantastic! It means your query letter rocks.)
c) The personal rejection. This is usually the case for agents you met at a conference and have requested your novel. They will be kind enough to take the time to give feedback on why they rejected your manuscript. Very useful for revisions.
d) The form rejection. For example:
On behalf of the agents here at (insert agency name), thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider your work. Unfortunately, we do not feel strongly enough about your project to pursue it further. Agenting is very subjective, however, and even though we could not take on your project, another agent might feel differently.
e) The radio silence. This is also known as the query void. You never heard back. Ever. Your query letter went to that place were socks disappear too in the dryer.
Good luck with your queries! This is awesome because it means that you wrote a book. You. Wrote. A. Book. And that's not nothing.