Very soon, I will be returning to join an uncounted number of my colleagues in what we refer to as the “Query Trenches.”
If you’re going to try to get your work traditionally published by one of the major publishers, this is a necessary step. To continue with the metaphor, on the other side of the trenches, across the “No Writer’s Land” of rejection, are the agents – our objective.
Now this sounds vastly more “Stiffening the sinews, rising up the blood, and lending the eye a terrible aspect” (Henry V – very paraphrased) than it actually is, and it paints agents in an unfair light.
Certainly, Querying is hard, which is where I expect the whole “Trench” thing comes from. Still, I am training myself out of using the phrase for the reason I mentioned above.
I haven’t yet settled on what to call the process, but there needs to be an alternative.
Agents aren’t the opposition. They aren’t trying to stop us form getting published. They want us to succeed. In fact, once you’ve signed with an agent, there is no differentiation. There is, no longer, “They” and “Us.” It turns into “We,” as in “We’re going out on submission. We’re in contract negotiations. We’ve sold a book.”
But it’s not that easy. There’s a lot of work involved, and Querying is one step of many.
And, Yes, Querying is hard work. On Multiple levels.
First, and paramount, is that you’ve got to have a polished story. It’s almost unfair, the degree to which your story must stand out from all the others, but that’s part of what makes the process (and the business) so hard.
Second, your query letter must encapsulate the story. It must entice the agent to ask for pages. I wrote about crafting a query letter earlier, so I won’t go into detail here, but it, too, needs to stand out.
The third is the inevitable rejection waiting for all of us. This is a fact of life. How you deal with it, is up to you, but deal with it, you must.
Querying will test your resolve. It will test how well you think you know your own story.
And it will test your patience, because Querying is, if nothing else, an exercise in waiting.
The good news is that, querying is also a skill. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
And that’s my new word for it: Querying.
So if you’ve got something ready to go, come join me.
Follow your spirit…