Does Querying Have You in a Quandary?


Q is for Querying

Some of you may know that I submitted a novel (a poorly written one) to half a dozen agents last year (I still cringe when I think about that). Ah! What was I thinking? I had this grand idea that they would…well, I imagined it would go a little like this:

Yeah, that’s my future agent there with a feather in her hat, trudging through the endless slush pile, growing more disappointed with each manuscript she encounters. But then, then she picks up mine, and hallelujah! {key the music, clouds part, angels sing} What a glorious day! She has discovered the holy grail of writers! Her heart swells as she reads prose, unlike anything she has ever fixed her gaze upon (unfortunately that still may be true).

Heh heh. It’s fun to dream isn’t it? As writers, we spend the majority of our day playing in our imagination, but I was severely delusional. I’m afraid this was most likely the scene that occurred when an agent read my query:

Hate all of It meme

Yep. I’m certain they hated it, all of it, every poorly produced piece of prose. Yeah, I’m aware that alliteration almost always annoys. I’m using it as a literary device to irritate you as much as I irritated the agents I queried.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m the writing equivalent of the singer who tried out for one of those talent shows based on the advice of a friend or parent. You know…someone like this guy…

Never mind. I’ll spare you that scene, but I’m sure you can imagine it. Is it possible to overestimate your abilities so dramatically? Is there a writing equivalent for being tone-deaf? Prose deaf, possibly?

So yeah, I submitted a manuscript laden with weak writing to half a dozen agents and received six fairly quick rejections. Oh, but the mistakes don’t end there. Oh no. I actually thanked a couple of them for replying. Their responses were so kind, thoughtful, and encouraging. Plus, they took the time out of their busy schedule to respond to me. I had to thank them.

Yeah, don’t do that. Agents have enough crap to sort through. Don’t add to it.

Can I just go crawl under a rock now? In fact, I think I might take up residence there, maybe turn it into one of those little hobbit holes and live there forever. Fortunately, I discovered my mistake early on and didn’t send anymore.

So what’s the point of this post? Don’t do what I did. If you plan on going the traditional route (I’m not sure that I will), and querying has you in a quandary, here are some tips to follow when submitting your query letter:

The Top Ten Query Mistakes

The 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Writing a Query Letter

How to Write a Query Letter

Have you queried or do you plan to query an agent? What has been your experience? What lessons have you learned that you’d like to share?