Pins and Needles

I am a hot mess right now.  I’ve had my face buried in my novel nonstop for three weeks.  I took some time off after I finished my rewrite, (story needed to rest) and I’ve been polishing my query skills and have actually submitted to several agencies.  But, I digress…

The Query.  Ew.  Just ew.  What a painstaking process… I thought childbirth was difficult.  I can say that poking my nose around the blogosphere looking for tips ended in some really enlightening reads.  I found some excellent websites that any author trying to get published who is cussing, screaming, throwing a laptop out the window struggling like I was should definitely check out… First:  AgentQuery.    A million thank you(s) to (no doubt)  tireless efforts that went in to constructing this website.  I’ve lost count how many times I’ve been on this website in the last several days.   When you are ready to look for an agent, this is definitely the place to find one, or at a minimum is a really good starting point.  If you’re looking for dos and don’ts, they’ve got a few of those too.

Second:  Query Shark.  Highly entertaining and loaded with a lot of dialogue about common mistakes, and if you take the time to read through the vast archives, I guarantee you’ll find a shell of your own miserable query in there somewhere.  I know I did.  Thanks to this blog, I identified what was fat and what was not.  And the snark. I love it and will frequent that place for this alone.  (thanks again for helping me abandon my rhetoric… I got that from years of debating)

I tried desperately to adhere to the goal of 250 words for a query, but I just couldn’t do it… I ended up at 340, and it’s the best I can possibly do.   Is my query perfect?  Can’t say, I’m sure some agents will find plenty wrong with it.  But I’ve read it more than 500 times and have rearranged that furniture to the best possible flow and I’m happy with it every time I read it.  And that’s also the best I can do.  Will an agent be intrigued enough to request a partial?  I don’t know…we’ll find out soon since I finally bit the bullet and actually sent it out…I hope I don’t have a heart attack if I get positive feedback.

My first batch were all e-queries, which of course doesn’t cost a thing, but also means I may not get a response.  If I want a nice rejection letter I’ll have to send it to an agent that prefers snail mail and include a SASE.  No response to e-query = rejection.  Let the waiting game begin.  I can always obsessive-compulsively edit my novel and synopsis until I hear something…

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9 Responses to “Pins and Needles”

  1. laurastanfill Says:

    Queries are so hard, aren’t they? And waiting for responses is hard too… good luck! I just submitted my partial manuscript to my novel writing group and I have to wait two months for the critique. Then again, I know I’ll get feedback!

  2. JB Hill Says:

    Brutal. Just brutal. Funny though, I looked back to the single query I sent last year when I thought my MS was in tip top shape and absolutely shuddered. It was awful, and I sounded like a used car salesman. Feedback is super important… I’m always on the lookout for people not obligated to love me to have a look-see. Thanks so much for commenting, I love to find kindred souls that feel just like I do.

    • laurastanfill Says:

      My writing group had a query night a month or so ago, and it was such a great event. We sent each other our queries and/or synopses, and then we talked about them. I totally feel like a used car salesman when trying to pitch my novel! There’s that whole introvert/extrovert issue with writing being a solitary occupation and then having to come out of our respective caves to say “Look what I did!”

  3. Emerald Barnes Says:

    Did you wait until your novel was finished to query or did you send these out before the final draft? I’m having a hard time deciding if that’s what I should do or not. Right now, my novel needs one or two more edits depending on what happens when I look at it again, but I don’t know if I should go ahead and query agents or not. It’s quite difficult to navigate around sometimes.

    • JB Hill Says:

      I am kind of the opinion that I could edit every single time I read it, and at some point… you just have to stop (it’s bordering on OCD I think). Ultimately, I think it’s the story and style that will take it through and gain interest. When I finished it (first draft), and let it sit – editing felt like a burden, that’s when I starting rewriting in a different narrative…. and in different character POVs. It really helped.

      When I finally finished it (meaning FINALLY happy with the voice and plot). I edited it front to back twice, filling plot holes, developing characters a bit more in places that looked empty… then started I to query. After I sent the queries, I’ve been editing some more while I wait to make sure it’s really polished (let someone else read too, they spot things your brain will overlook) just in case. The query actually helped as a distraction, and since some agents can take up to two weeks to respond…. you have time for last minute touches. But I think you have to be in a “ready” place before you start. I sort of thought I was last year, but I would have sent more than one query if I were.

      I agree, it’s hard to decide. When did you finish yours?

      • Emerald Barnes Says:

        Well, I finished the third draft a month or two ago and sent it out to beta readers. I haven’t heard back from them yet, and was going to try and wait until I could hear what they had to say before doing at least one or two more edits.

        I’m borderline OCD with editing every time I look at my written work. Even published work, I still try to edit.

        Thanks for the advice. 🙂

      • JB Hill Says:

        Beta readers are such a great idea… and it’s so nice to just connect with other people trying to do the very same thing you are trying to do. Thanks so much for stopping by, look forward to following your progress.

      • laurastanfill Says:

        I have to chime in on the constantly editing/tweaking comment, JB. I heard author Scott Sparling speak last week. He said his critique group, after he spent 20-some years working on his novel, finally bequeathed him a ream of blank paper. That’s their signal for when it’s time to quit tinkering with your book and start a new one. He said it was something like an intervention… And it’s an especially wonderful story because Tin House Books published his novel, Wire to Wire, to critical acclaim in June.

  4. laurastanfill Says:

    Hi, JB! I awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award! You may choose to accept or not, but the details are here:

    http://laurastanfill.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/versatile-blogger-award/


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