Querying: The Dating Game

I equate my query letter with the first date. Sometimes there’s a connection and you ask to see me again (request my partial or full manuscript). Othertimes, it’s a dud and we part company never to lay eyes on each other again.

When you request my partial I think of that like 3 dates. After three dates, I’d appreciate a reason for not wanting to see me more, but you can just disappear too. It’s pretty common…in querying and dating.

When you request my full, I think of that like hitting the two month mark. If you are no longer interested in me, I think I deserve a reason (didn’t like my voice, wasn’t hooked by my concept, didn’t find my protagonist likeable, etc.)

And I promise I will not email back arguing with you. I will just accept your reason and move on. Consider it while working on my manuscript. Because I want to write the best book I can.

But let’s rewind to the initial query part. It’s that awkward first date.

There’s a ton of uncertainty about what can or will come next.

Some agents post their policy on their blog or website, saying they respond to all queries in x# of days. That’s like a guy saying I’ll call you in a few days. Cool, I know what to expect. There will be a follow up email, even if it’s rejection. They won’t leave me hanging.

For the most part, agents are great about following up and I appreciate it. At least, I can let go of the uncertainty.

But some of them don’t. And I hate having to nudge and follow up. It’s awkward and uncomfortable. Maybe they got a bit behind schedule. I understand their actual clients come first second and third. I’m in the bottom half of their to-do list as a querier.

My fallback is to not follow up on queries unless the agents’ blog/website specifically says to do so. Kinda like if the guy says if you don’t hear from me, please shoot me an email cause my phone keeps deleting my contact list.

I’ve read blogs where no reply in x weeks means they are not interested. That’s great. Certainty, right?

But for one thing. I don’t know if the email query went through. I don’t know if it’s in the agents spam box unread or being rejected. Because there is a sliver of a chance that the email went awry (happened  to me a couple times, anyway).

Once, I marked a query as rejected only to have an agent come back 3 months later and say it went into her spam box and request the full.

So we aren’t paranoid when we think he lost my number, forgot my email, got busy, had a family emergency and make excuses for the guy. There is that 1-3% chance that happened. Though most of the time, we’re just making excuses for someone who is not that into us.

Here’s what helps. An automated email response saying Query received. Then I know not to go down that self-doubting path where I cut the guy so much slack I hang myself. Or even worse start becoming stalkerish about his blog and twitter.

I met an agent at a conference who said she loved my book and could sell it. She requested the full. She offered to help me with my query letter. I sent her both and then she fell off the face of the earth. Ouchy. It’s like the guy who dates you for a few months and says let’s take a trip and then just disappears on you. Guess he took that vacay on his own.

Since it was a full request, I waited four months and then sent a follow up email. No reply. I waited a few months and sent another. This email got a send me the manuscript again reply. Then nothing.

And the more you date/query, the more these things happen.

Silver lining? The super conscientious agents, who reject your query within 3 days of you sending it. Yeah, it hurts, but at least you had the decency to turn me down. Now I don’t have to wonder if it’s lost in spamville or you missed it in your inbox. (That also happened to me–took 5 months for a reply and included a partial request)

So how do I deal with all this uncertainty and rejection?

Much like dating, I mope, I rally against the injustice of it all, I eat some chocolate ice cream and cheetos, I work out, I get ready for another date.

Because there’s a part of me that hopes one of these dates might lead to something special.

How do you deal with the querying process?

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4 Responses to Querying: The Dating Game

  1. berry says:

    I hate rejection. Don’t even try.

    • It’s hard to deal with. I don’t think anyone likes rejection. 🙂 But every query is a possibility of acceptance. Until it becomes a rejection. So for each rejection, I send another one out. But it definitely wears on your self-esteem. Luckily, I have friends and parents who continually shore it up.

  2. Nick says:

    Just don’t give up and lose confidence in yourself! Fingers crossed you’ll get a reply to one of your queries from an agent soon 🙂

    • It’s rough. My confidence ebbs and flows all the time. Sometimes my friends are there to build it back up, Othertimes the act of writing does it for me. I’ve just got to keep moving forward. Eventually momentum with overwhelm me. 🙂

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