You know that feeling you get an interview for a job that you really want, but hate the interview process? Or when you’re starting a new school year and you don’t know who your teacher(s) are or will be, so you’re really nervous but also really excited? In the writer’s journey, there is a double-edged point like that, called querying. It is essentially the process of “applying” to have your book represented by an agent so that that agent can then try to sell your book to a publisher. That’s where I’m at in my journey…again…and I both love and hate it.
I love it because I finally finished the fifth revision of my first manuscript, and I feel like it’s getting to be a much better story, one that is at least somewhat on par with other books that have been published and even done well on the national market. I love it because it’s fun to think about the possibility of getting published, not the fame or the money that goes with it, because those things don’t necessarily come with getting published, but the joy of having my name on a printed book and people reading it, even those I don’t know, and saying that they liked it. I love it because I feel like I’ve really put in the blood, sweat, and tears that it takes to become a good writer. This process has been much more difficult than I anticipated, but I love that I’ve been able to get in touch with the part of me that is creative, and let that soar. I feel like I’m one step closer to reaching My Full Potential.
But…that being said, there is also plenty to hate. Querying involves spending hours researching agents, of which there are quite a few, to find those that are looking for books like mine. It involves preparing customized query letters–similar to the cover letter of a resume–for each agent. The process of whittling down the essence of my book–which is 92,000 words long–to roughly 300 has been a journey in and of itself. And then I email those query letters with a few sample pages and wait. So. Much. Waiting.
The waiting, though, is better than the rejection. I recently sent my full manuscript and a synopsis to an agent who had requested all of that, only to have her reject it handily because it had people in it from other planets, a detail that I told her about when I originally pitched to her (i.e., presented my query letter in verbal format at a writers’ conference); I spent months trimming my word count and upping the stakes, excited about the possibility of her representing my book and taking it to the next level. Her rejection is just one of more than 30 I’ve received for this manuscript.
Lest you think I put all my eggs in that one agent’s basket, though, I didn’t. I’ve queried maybe ten more, and am waiting for their replies. They can take anywhere from a few days to six months; sometimes, they don’t even reply. When I’ve gotten rejections before, it hurts, but I look at it as meaning that there are a lot of other manuscripts out there vying for acceptance. They’re doing me a favor, in a way, by rejecting my book, so that I can continue to improve it, or realize that it’s time to start working on another book. Either way, those are both good things, so how can I complain?
It’s all good. I hate it, and I love it, but it’s all truly good.