Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Would You Like Some Cheese With That Whine?

Absolutely.  And perhaps some chocolate covered cherries as well.  Fast food... sickeningly sweet caffeinated beverages.  Oh, and sushi.  Yes, lots and lots of sushi.

I have arrived at ‘that stage’ of querying.  Well, actually I arrived there two weeks ago when I got my first query R the very same day I sent out my batch.

For weeks I had been in the revision process and blissfully unaware.  I could dream as I hacked away at my query letter and fifth draft of my MS that ‘this is it!  THIS will be the one!’  I imagined being like those chosen few who only query for a couple weeks- hit a nerve on a dream agent and finish out their lives in literary bliss. 

After all- I’ve done my time, haven’t I?  I’ve made all the mistakes and learned from them.  I spent almost a year in the query trenches with my first book- with several requests for pages,  only to realize my book wasn’t ‘there yet’.  So I put it aside and wrote a second.  Then a third -incorporating everything I’ve learned.  I’ve honed my craft, researched, had TONS of input and help on my query letter.  The positive feedback from my beta readers helped fuel the fire- I can do this! 

Then I made that list of dream agents and thought ‘why the hell not?’  What have I got to lose?

Well, geez Katie- your delusions for one.

Having accomplished all the work- revising the query and sprucing up the draft and finally even feeling ready to #hitsend was like a natural high.  I felt fabulous!!!  For one brief second, I thought- this is it.  It’s gonna happen this time!

It’s like when you’re trying to make a baby.  You spent weeks in bed, perfecting ‘the fun part’ and are now looking down at the pee stick, waiting for the plus (after all your efforts, it’s only natural right?)  and instead there’s a big fat minus sign.

An hour after hitting send, I had my first rejection.



I see how it is.

Maybe it was a fluke?

Two weeks later- five rejections out of the first batch of ten.

Not a fluke.

Back to the drawing board.  I re-honed my query.  I noticed when querying ‘Gretchen Grey’ that many agents responded to it because of its professionalism and not necessarily the voice.  I’d thought this was ‘hors norm’ since everywhere I went was saying the query needs to be oozing voice and high stakes. 

Maybe mine had too much voice?  Maybe I should damper it down and just get to the damn point?

Maybe it’s just never gonna happen for me.

Yes, two weeks into the query trenches and the questioning doubt arises.   I know.  After being through it already, I should be a veteran, right?  Thick skin, letting it roll of my back, swatting away the rejection like flies and keeping my eye on the prize?  A query monster!

But I’m not a query monster.  I’m a total query wimp; the equivalent of the skinny, pale, nose-bleeder with glasses in the query world. 

So why do I keep doing this to myself?


The truth is, there are very few things I know (like in a psychic way) about the future.  But one of them is ‘time will always ALWAYS go by’.  No matter what- the clock is constantly ticking.    There will be a year from now, and a two years from now.  There’s no stopping that.

But we can choose how that time is spent.  Sure- I could spend two years doing absolutely nothing but waiting on the shitter.  Or I could accomplish so much more.  I used to tell myself this whenever I looked at the last years of college.  I used to think- this is HARD!  What if I just stopped?  Again, the only thing I knew was that the same amount of time would go by, but I’d have much less to show for it.  So that’s why I keep going now.

Thank you for letting me whine.  Enjoy the spread.  And if I have you thirsty for some optimism, please check out my friend Jessica Bell who just got her publishing deal!!  She is my hero and her story is a light in the darkness!  Congrats Jess!   


Candyland said...

You know, writer actually LIKE to be punished! This is why we keep going and putting ourselves out there. You can do it!!!

Renae said...

Feel free to vent whenever you need it! That's what we're all here for...querying is brutal, but a necessary evil.

Good luck! I know those requests are just around the corner!

Vicki Rocho said...

You can do it! You've got the right attitude. Yes, it sucks, but what other choice do you have except to move forward?

Unknown said...

You can do it! We all have faith in you! We support you 100%

I needed a major pick me up last week (and this week) since this is my first time truly handling revisions... I want to pull my hair out, throw my novel away, yell at it. Thank god for blog buddies or I'd never be off the ledge!

Anne Gallagher said...

I'll take a little of that cheese to go with my whine as well.

Thanks for saying absolutely everything I wanted to say. For my next post, I'll just send everyone here.

Kristine Asselin said...

Hang in there! I think you need to send a few more to get an accurate return rate on your query. Good luck!

Laura Pauling said...

Aaaaahhh! The query process is so hard emotionally! We're up one day and down the next. I'm not as anxious to jump into the query process this time, knowing that I could be totally delusional! and I'm not quite ready yet. It's not an easy place to be! Hurrah for putting yourself out there and being brave.

Tracy said...


Girl, I can totally sympathize with how you feel. I'm going through a similar version of query hell myself. I think, at this point, I could handle being rejected on my pages because at least then I'd know it was my story that needed to be worked on. But if you can't find the right damned combination in your query to get agents to read the pages it's all for not.

Hang in there! I firmly believe getting an agent is like falling in love. It happens when you're least expecting, and it's usually not the person you thought it would be.

Lindsay said...

I'm so with you on this. Being in queryland is hard. *sniff* But I know we'll both get there. Hugs.

Meredith said...

Ugh, I hate those moments of self-doubt. But it'll pay off one day--I have to believe that!

Summer Ross said...

Keep pushing forward. Look at each rejection as a notch in your belt (or lipstick) I'm sorry it's hell right now, I'm rooting for you. You can do it!

Carolyn V. said...

The hate the big R. But you are right. Time will go by and the worst thing that can happen is nothing.

Keep on going, you are totally going to make it! I'm cheering for you! =D (plus you are going to sign you book for me when it does get published...right? Please say yes.)

Lenny Lee said...

hi miss katie! sorry you got those rejections. not fun for sure. but you still gotta believe in what you wrote and keep sending them. i think its pretty hard trying to do that letter knowing you got a really good book but not knowing how just one person could have so much power over it. if you believe in YOU just keep doing those letters and sending them out cause all of a sudden youre gonna get one back that says yep its a cool book for sure.
...hugs from lenny

S.A. Larsenッ said...

This is why we are here, blogging buds. We support. This writing journey may not be easy, but we're all in it together. We may grow, and have successes and failures at different times, but we are one in the same. Chin up, girl. Here for you.

Brenda Drake said...

I feel your pain. I think I cried for the entire morning on Monday. The only way to have something great happen to you is to put yourself out there. You have a great attitude, and yes the years will fly by, but one day your dreams will arrive! :D

Dawn Ius said...

Hon, you know all the stats about big name authors who first received hundreds of rejections before they sold their first book. This industry is tough - but you're tougher. Remember that it takes just one agent to fall in love with your book. One. Forget about the others - and court "the one." xo

Tina Lynn said...

Oh, girl, do I know what you're saying. I thought I had the thickest skin EVAR. But I got one R that nearly killed me. I've stopped querying since, not because I'm quitting, but because the MS isn't ready. Ouch. I feel ur pain.

Tom M Franklin said...

my query went through at least 25 iterations, much to my consternation and to the undoubted annoyance of two incredibly supportive people i met online. in the end, after tweaking down To The Word, i finally started sending it out to see if it "worked" or not.

the thing is, there are more reasons to reject a query than there are to ask for a partial/full -- especially for those of us flailing about, hoping to be noticed out of the slush pile.

if you'd like another set of eyes on your query, i'm more than willing to do so. just email me directly.

good luck. keep at it!

-- Tom

mshatch said...

I think I sent 25 querys for my novel, Almost Paradise, over the course of 9 months, receiving 5 very nice rejections out of the bunch (ie, they said something positive about my query or sample) before receiving one (finally) that wanted a partial. Additionally, she was interested in my next project which I mentioned in the letter, giving me double hope. AND Almost Paradise is the 4th novel I've written/queried. So, DO NOT give up. Some people hit it on the first try. But some of us, me anyway, take longer to get it right. And keep writing. That's what I do :)

Tamara Narayan said...

I think it's our imaginations that get us into trouble during the query process. We're writers, it's in our blood to write a happy ending in our minds: the partial that becomes a full that becomes representation then a book deal. Then we have to deal with the reality of rejections and the long odds on success in this business. I'm in the query pit too, but I've gotten enough feedback from agents to edit and rewrite my ms into something I love. As long as you love writing; keep going.

Raquel Byrnes said...

Stick to it, hang it there, and all that jazz. You'll get a nibble if you keep trying. =)

Matthew MacNish said...

I would love some nice smoked gouda please.

And if you're not getting rejected than you're not doing shit. Rejection means you're actually getting something done, and having the courage to believe in yourself.

The only people who don't get rejected are the ones who submit nothing.

Katrina L. Lantz said...

I'm right there with you, Katie! It sucks when you get SO CLOSE with requests and then... *heartbroken sigh* no dice.

But you're absolutely right about time passing no matter what. We either keep working at what we love, what we KNOW we're born to do, or we waste time doing other stuff that probably won't bring us as much satisfaction as that day when we finally can say, "I HAVE AN AGENT" or "MY BOOK IS ON SHELVES!" and all the fun in between stuff, too.

I can't wait for it to happen for you, and it will. Perseverence is the key word in this business.

p.s. I'm writing a post right now about my agent wish list, inspired by your little song. LOVE that song.

Nicole Zoltack said...

The query-go-round is an awful place. There's highs and lows. Each no gets us closer to yes. I'm hoping to have my stories and queries ready for the start of next year. I'm still waiting to hear back from queries I sent months ago (some are probably no response = rejection, but others, the agent usually responds). It's a tough road, the road to publication, but it so worth it to climb that hill.

Colene Murphy said...

Whine whenever you need! No worries there.

You will make it. You have made such great progress already. Getting requests and what not is HUGE anyway! Just keep trying and keep bettering yourself. That's all we as writers can do right? You will find that ONE agent for you. It might just be they are there and you just haven't mailed them yet but I fully believe that you will find the one.

Joanna St. James said...

you know how we all secretly wish we had Ian Somerhalder locked in our basement? its the same with queries, u just need to find that one amazing agent who you will click with, ur Enrique Iglesias is still out there. If all of those 5 rejections wanted to rep u it prolly would not have worked, so hang in there and wait for the right agent.

Jennifer Hoffine said...

I got an agent on my first book. Lost him then had to write three more books before I got another agent.

The ups and downs of this business never end (Sarah Dessen even posted a while ago about her continuing self doubts). The only way to succeed is to stick with it. And it is worth it, IMO. Only the writers who mange to hold onto that belief will make it.

Anne R. Allen said...

Thanks for your funny, insightful comment on my blogpost about Nathan Bransford.

But you have every right to whine. It's brutal out there. Getting brutaller by the minute. Just a few years ago, my mediocre queries (I didn't know any better) almost always got a partial request. Lots of fulls. I landed an agent, who couldn't sell my books, so I wrote some more. Got a better agent. She couldn't make a sale either, but I kept going.

Now I can write a killer query with a fantastic hook for a super-polished ms. and I get nothing, zilch, nada. I'm actually flattered with a one-sentence form rejection--OMG, they acknowledge I exist!!

The publishing industry is in a state of upheaval and the few editors who haven't lost their jobs are terrified and they're taking their fear out on agents. The only rule is "Nothing can be done that hasn't been done before." That's why nothing sells but YA, paranormal, and gimicky mash-ups.

The people who are really suffering are readers. I remember when I always had ten new books on my "can't wait to read" list: fun books for grown-up ladies. Not involving brain eating monsters or revisiting the horrors of high school. Sigh.

I'm not sure what we can do about it, but be assured it's got nothing to do with your voice--if it's anything like the one on your blog, it's fabulous.

We may have to start up self-publishing collectives for genres like smart, funny women's fiction. It has been vilified by the industry for no apparent reason. But it appeals to the vast majority of readers--who are women over 40. (How many of your mom's friends are that heavily into into zombies?)

OK, now I got to whine, too.

Hart Johnson said...

Hang in there, Katie! You'll get there! Yes, the querying absolutely and totally SUCKS. I hear you on that one... but you are doing all the right things... it will come together.

(I want wine with my whine, thanks)

Susan Fields said...

Yes, Jessica's story is a light in the darkness! Something for the rest of us to cling to as we go through our own query wars. I'll be there with you soon. I'm excited to get there, but also dreading it. Best of luck to you!

Old Kitty said...

Wonderful creepy query girl!!!! One thing that shines through is your gutsy determination!! You get knocked back so many times but by golly you get right back on your feet and you try again and again and again!! And not just churning the same ol THING but improving on IT, working on IT, beavering away and polishing, polishing, polishing!!

BRAVO and good for you!!!! It's easier to just lay down and giving up. It's harder and more soul destroying to do the complete opposite. But by golly the rewards - the pot at the end of the rainbow - are so worth this pain!!

You will succeed.
Take care

Melissa Gill said...

I totally hear you Katie. Last Wed I got two e-mail rejections, then stopped by the mail box for another hit of joy joy. Then to top it off I got a rejection on my request for a full! I used it as an excuse to eat cookies, cake, ice cream... If this keeps up I'll blow up like a balloon

Anonymous said...

You have a really inspiring outlook on time. Thank you for sharing your thoughts... and your w[h]ine!

LTM said...

oh, you just hang in there honey. Pretend you're fishing. Patience and the right bait~ :o) <3

Roxy said...

It's okay to feel bad for a while after a rejection. Just don't stop writing and querying. Come back and keep trying. I have a plethora of rejections, a cornucopia, if you will, of No Thank You notes . . . So, pass the sushi, will you? And add a nice caesar salad to boot.

Carolyn Abiad said...

I sooo don't want to be singing this song either, but I know it's on the menu for all of us. My niece sent me some Bryan Adams "Don't let go"...(of the things you believe in) Sappy, but so helpful on those self-doubting days (which is EVERY day, for me).

Like you said, time goes by, if we've worked toward a dream or not.

DL Hammons said...

After my recent way I'm going to give you grief about whining!! :) Although I haven't read any of your stories, just a few snippets you've posted for blogfests, but it was enough to convince me that you will recieve that CALL some day! Vent all you need...but keep sending out those letters!

Anonymous said...

Every writer is perfectly entitled to whine now and again. It's better than many of the venting alternatives, and way easier to recover from.

I know it's beyond frustrating, but keep on going. It can happen!

Melissa said...

Whine away girl. This stuff is hard. I'm sorry you're having a rough go of it. My thoughts are with you.

I know you'll get there someday. You have too much voice and are too talented not too.

Jessica Bell said...

Aw, honey. You WILL get there one day. You have talent and determination to back you up too! Just imagine your life if you didn't write? Would you want to live it? I wouldn't. It's times like these you just have to think. What would I choose? Writing, or not writing? You're gonna write anyway, so now all you need is a little ego boost. YOU ARE BRILLINAT HONEY AND ONE DAY YOU'RE GONNA GET REWARDED FOR IT!!!!! :O)

Anonymous said...

Dora is my source of inspiration ,"Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming." Okay, so this is from a kids movie Finding Nemo. But her sticjtuitiveness is inspiring. And I like the movie. Hope this helps. There is someone out there who is just waiting to say that one word you want to hear .... YES!

Laura Maylene said...

I'm happy I just found your blog! I love reading about publishing/querying journeys. Best of luck to you!

Greg Gutierrez said...

I queried and quiered. I polished and polished. After working 5 years on my first novel I was able to sum it up in one sentence and that made ALL the difference. What happens when a lost man finds Christ only to lose his soul? The requests poured in and I choose the agent who was most excited about my novel, Mammoth Mountain.

That was over a year ago and though it is still being read by a fantastic editor, it hasn't sold. So even when you get your dream agent it's just another step along the way. The key to staying sane is to use all the emotional ups and downs and pour them into your art. While I've been waiting for Mammoth Mountain to sell I've completed another novel and in a few days I'll send it to my agent.

I keep telling myself that the journey is the reward. Don't give up. Someone is going to fall in love with your book!

Greg Gutierrez

Creepy Query Girl said...

Welcome Laura! Nice to meet you!

Thanks so much Greg for sharing your story. It's easy to forget how important the journey is:)

Rachel said...

All i can say is HANG ON! We are all in the same boat and the only thing keeping us alive is that we're sticking to the rail and trying desperately not to jump or fall into the ocean.

Hang on, girl. Never let that passion, that fire, that oomph die because that's what kept J.K.Rowling, Stephanie Myer and many more, where they are today.

Talli Roland said...

Vent and vent away! That's what we're all here for - and we understand. I've been through it multiple time - hang in there. Persistence really is the key!

Yaya' s Home said...

Hmmmm; you'd think someone would publish some kinda' shortcut for all of us who resort to stalking agents.

Keep pluggin' away. I know you can do it.

~ Yaya

Anne R. Allen said...

I've just blogged about why it's so much harder to get published in adult fiction than YA. It might help you understand that it's not you; it's them.

Jamie Gibbs said...

I would offer you the best of luck, but with the amount of hard work and determination you've put into this, You don't need luck :) Like you said, time will go by, and that shiny golden agent will pick up your ms and cry, "yes!" We're all behind you here :)


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