Musings from the query rollercoasterPosted: April 17, 2013
As my regular reader knows, I’ve been querying my first manuscript, ISLA’S INHERITANCE, for about six-to-nine months. I’ve blogged about my generic strategy for querying before.
You’ll notice the first of the items in my strategy is from the Miss Snark playbook: exclusives stink. I noted that one of the benefits of having a lot of queries out at once is that a single rejection seems smaller. Think about it: if you’ve got ten queries out there and one agent says no, then the ratio of “no” to “possible yes” is 1:9 in your favour. Those are pretty good odds.
I don’t blog about the actual details of querying—who has my query, who said no, who has a partial or a full—because there are some things a writer just shouldn’t share with the (largely indifferent) masses. How many agents or publishers have already said no is one of those things; do I really want to advertise to a potential agent that a number of other agents passed? Especially if it’s a big number?
(As an aside, thoughts on individual rejections—especially if they tend toward vitriol—are another, and top of the list of things not to blog about. Not that I have any vitriol to vent, mind you; the rejections I’ve received have generally been very polite form letters. Sometimes I’ve gotten nice individual feedback, including from an intern who said she was sure I was getting lots of offers. Bless her and her wishful thinking; do you think I should send chocolate?)
However, I think I can say without oversharing that I’ve had a little bit of trouble finding a home for Isla and her friends. I like to imagine it’s not because of the writing—although I may be deluded on that score; every parent thinks their child is the most beautiful and talented, right? I had some problems getting the pacing at the start of the book right, but my beta readers have helped me with that and I think I’ve more-or-less nailed it now. (Again, I may be deluded.)
No, I’m pretty sure my biggest problem is that my book falls somewhere between urban fantasy and paranormal fiction, depending how you look at it. And it seems the big publishing houses aren’t that wild about urban fantasy or paranormal fiction right now. So agents aren’t that wild about it either, because if they can’t sell it to a decent-sized publishing house, what’s the point for them? I’m not judging, mind you; it’s just a financial reality.
I haven’t quite given up hope on getting an agent. I still have faith in Isla’s story, across the first book and the sequel both. But I’ve stopped sending out new agent queries. The last batch that are out there is my last.
This decision means my number of queries in the field has dropped below the magical ten that were keeping me sane. My ratio doesn’t look as cheery anymore. Suddenly I’ve developed a number of nervous habits, mostly around checking my email inbox and spam folder every twenty minutes. I can’t bear not hearing anything. I can’t bear it! Obviously I want to receive a “yes, I love it; here is a purse of monies”, but at this point I’d be satisfied with a “not for us, thanks”, just so I know!
Any tips for me, so I don’t pull all my hair out before my next birthday? (Which is tomorrow, by the way, so yes, it’s serious!)