Fortune Cookie Friday: Query Worry
Today’s fortune is one of those vague ones that are supposed to give the reader a little hope. Most of the time, I disregard these types of prognostications, but today I held it in my hand and took it to heart.
I recently finished editing my latest young adult novel, a contemporary fantasy fiction about life after death. My critique partners have helped me hone the work to the point that I can now say it’s finished. I even had some high school teens read it to get some feedback—so far, so good.
The next phase of the book begins. It’s time to start querying, and I’m starting to feel anxious. Writing the stories that swirl around in my head is far easier for me than marketing them. Author and agent, Cheryl B. Klein says that submitting your book is like “dating—an intensely personal endeavor in which everyone is looking for the right match.”
Finding that match takes a lot of work. I had research bunches of perspective agents to narrow the list down to a select group. A writer can’t send their manuscript off to just anyone. The agent needs to: have an interest in my book genre, be open to solicitations, and preferably have worked on books similar to mine.
Most of this information I can find from their professional websites and social posts. The Internet is a fantastic tool for finding out what an agent likes and dislikes. I have recently been using Query Tracker to help me find a match to various agents, and I now have a list from which I can work.
Querying doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m not one to boast about myself or things I have done. I learned that a lot of writers have a similar problem. We are generally reclusive when working on a project. When it’s completed and polished, we have to switch gears and frantically wave our hands in the air and shout, “Here I am!” Much like a rabbit in the field, we are vulnerable. We want to attract attention, but the right kind.
Even with all of the research, a great manuscript, and a killer query letter, I may end up not finding someone to represent me. Sometimes it’s not the right fit for the agent or the right time for the book. It can feel like a punch to the gut, but writers need to keep trying. Luckily, there are gems in the writing community that hold our hands, lead the way, and cheer us on. These are the people that have been there before and share their stories like I am sharing mine.
I hope that querying is the new venture the fortune speaks of and that it is a success. If not, I will keep on writing and add this experience to my growing bevy of knowledge.