Friday, June 8, 2012

FMFB- Debating the Act of 'Querying'

Good Morning everybody and welcome to another Friday Morning Follower’s Bloffee! This week was filled with some fun and fantastic book launches. Congratulations to Elana Johnson, Hart Johnson and Elizabeth Craig on their new releases!

All you have to do to participate in bloffee is:

1. Comment. 2. Tell us what you’ve brought for breakfast. (In reality I just had coffee and a lowfat yogurt. But in my virtual world I can have greasy eggs and bacon and real-buttered toast. So that's what I'm bringing.:)  3. Find someone in the comments section you don’t recognize and check out their blog. Voila! An instant friend and potential follower connection has been made.

Today I'm having bloffee over at Misha Gericke's My First Book where I (hopefully) reveal how to stay in the query trenches when it's 'Just Not Happening' (Yeah. I know plenty about that.) Writing the post got me thinking. --Where do you think the act of querying agents stands now a'days?
Different opinions I've picked up on in the last few months:
a. It's a necessary step and can teach a writer a lot of valuable lessons and traits for the future. Time well spent.
b. In today's market, it's unecessary and without interest. Just self publish already!
c. A useful process but it's no good to stagnate in there forever. Keep writing books. Keep querying. And if it doesn't happen, then look into other avenues. 
d. If a traditional agent doesn't pick you up, then you're probably not good enough.
e. If a traditional agent doesn't pick you up, it's because the system is flawed. Just self-publish already!

Do you think querying agents is still necessary and/or useful? Do you think authors lose patience easier/faster/too fast/not fast enough with querying in today's climate?

Hope you all have a great weekend!



Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I will visit Misha's site today!
I never queried agents - went straight to querying publishers.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Well, since I have already a) self-published and b)published traditionally without an agent, I can tell you that I found it necessary to go looking for an agent. I didn't feel I was making any progress through a) or b).

I've got an egg-white omelet with cheese and diced tomatoes. Happy to make them for anybody who wants one this morning. ;)

Natalie Aguirre said...

I do want to query agents. I'm not sure it means you're not a good enough writer if you don't get an agent or traditional publisher. I think it depends on each person whether it's good to go self-publishing if the traditional avenue doesn't work. For me, working full-time, I don't think I'd do a good job doing everything it takes to publish a book.

Matthew MacNish said...

I'm sticking with it, if for no other reason that to prove something to myself.

I don't know if I can keep it up forever, though.

Stina said...

I didn't know Dianne has self published.

It depends on your goal. If you just want to see you name on a book, then why bother querying. For me, that's not my goal, and querying agents is still essential for me. Maybe it's partly Matt's answer too. Or maybe I'm just enjoy the thrill of rejection. (ROFL as if!)

Anonymous said...

I tend to lean toward option C - that it's good to try, but don't let it consume you. I would not have learned about the art of the summary, or the blurb, or even being able to tell MYSELF the heart of the story in a few sentences, if not for querying. Plus, it's a good exercise in perseverance, as well as knowing when you've persevered enough and it's time to move on.

Bringing raspberries and cinnamon rolls to this virtual breakfast this morning.

Laura Pauling said...

I'm bringing Savvy Strawberry Tarts! :)

I think it totally depends on your goals. Some writers do sign after months of querying so if you're querying with your best work then still query. But at the same time esp. today we have to really research our agents and how savvy they are in the industry. What is their stance on self publishing?

There are also lots of smaller houses open like HOliday House and Tor that accept queries from writers. You can meet editors at conferences. I'd suggest doing both.

I self published because I want a career more than I wanted in a bookstore. I want to earn money to justify staying at home. I'm not there yet but I'm just starting out with one book published. It takes 3-5 years to build up your virtual shelf.

Blanket advice to "just self publish" probably isn't very wise. What are your goals?

Great thought invoking post, Katie!

Lydia Kang said...

I'm definitely with #c. I think it teaches some skills (not query writing, but setting a different bar for manuscript quality that goes outside your circle), but it's certainly not the end all and be all of publishing! I think a lot of great self-pubbed books out there happen to be by writers who were already agented, or nearly agented, or have been querying and writing books for a solid few years.

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Love Misha! Hopping over....

I'm bringing an ooey-gooey coffee cake with tons of glaze.

To answer your question: Like everything else in this business and life for that matter, it's an individual journey. This leads to individual choices. It also depends where you are in your writing journey. Sometimes we feel more secure if we have an agent guiding us. You may get to the point where you feel more confident in your work and marketing yourself that you cut the middle man and go straight to the publishers or self-publish. ;D

Tamara Narayan said...

I'm bringing chocolate chip cookies, because I stayed up all hours of the night baking them into rabbit shapes for Little Bear's kindergarten graduation.

I queryed my first book. It was painful and educational. I may query it again, but I'm think going after a small publisher might have better results. I'll query book 2 first and see what happens. Taking the plunge into self-publishing is not something I'm ready for, although my husband says if I sneak in a math problem, he'll put it on his required reading list for his students.

Mina Burrows said...

Okay so here's what I got today. chocolate chip waffles with a side of cubed mango. And that's for my kids since its the first official day they both have off for summer.

As for querying...I think it would come down to the novels I was pitching -- whether or not there would be interest traditionally. If not, then I'd probably explore other avenues like self pub.

Jenny said...

I'm bringing pumpkin flax granola, but I wish I was bringing a cinnamon roll and real (not decaf) coffee.

a-e are all true for me every day. Maybe that's part of my problem.

Off to visit a new blog!

Leigh Ann said...

Greek yogurt with flax seeds. *grumbles* At least there's coffee.

Obviously I can only speak for myself, but C. It's why I send out LARGE batches of queries - I want to get it over with. If I don't have success in a few months with a book, I start to wallow. My best experiences have been when I've started a new book as soon as that first query got sent out. Write, write, write - even though it's, like, the hardest thing EVER.

Julie Dao said...

I brought chocolate chip waffles! :)

I'm about to jump in the querying pool myself, so I couldn't say at this point in time what my impressions are just yet. But I believe that anything worthwhile is worth working hard for, and I love the challenge of making an agent fall in love with my book. I want to try it and prove to myself that at least I gave it a shot. It's going to be hard, but I don't give up easily.

LD Masterson said...

I've got tea and danish and I'm going to visit Laura.

I'm doing the agent querying thing because I'm a traditional kind of person and that's the traditional route. But if I'm not successful...well, then I'll try the untraditional.

Carrie-Anne said...

I think the agenting system in America, rather like the state of maternity "care" in America, is in a state of crisis and needs more wakeup calls and attention called to valid alternative ways of doing the same thing. I think querying is useful if you're looking to be traditionally published and get more chance of public attention than you would on your own, but life's too short to keep doing it for years and years and years. I know people like my writing, but it's a little harder finding agents who are interested in some of the things I write, like historical YA, extremely long historical sagas, and books that are quieter and more character-driven. E-publishing might be the way to go for certain of my books.

I'll bring my matzah granola, which tastes good any time of year.

Old Kitty said...

I miss good old fashioned chocolate truffles, so I'm bringing some! Yay!

I admire anyone going the self-published way! I am in total AWE!!

Me, I'm too much of a wuss and prefer to be picked up by an agent just to feel validated! It would also help if I finished my wip and start querying! LOL! Take care

Tasha Seegmiller said...

In my dream world, I would be eating a big ole fat omelet with Tabasco, but really Diet Coke and a bagel.

I'm probably one who will keep querying because I want to prove to myself that I can do it. But since I'm not there yet, talk is cheap.

Patti said...

I was just over at Misha's blog and loved your honesty.

I think I'm a little bit C. I would like to eventually find an agent, but would consider other options down the road.

Petronela said...

Your enthusiasm is so adorable and somehow contagious. No wonder you have so many friends :) your words are better than a shrink session :), if I may. Kisses.

Angela Brown said...

I'm so late to bloffee so I'm bringing soft, chewy chocolate chunk cookies with me for other late comers :-)

I'm going with option C. I don't think there's anything wrong with going the query route to seek an agent or an editor for a smaller press. It really is a good chance to work on your ability to shrink 65K words into 300 words, which is hard as 'halibut' to me.

Yet, with authors emerging on the self-published scene, talented story tellers that probably didn't make it beyond the slush pile, I can't help embracing the option of having the option.

So try for an agent. That's cool. But if one doesn't beat down your door, self-publishing is an open opportunity as well.

mshatch said...

well, it's past dinner time now which means it's time for a drink. I think a little vodka and sprite zero will do the trick, don't you? Anyway, I want to be published the traditional way, with an agent, through a known publishing house. That's my dream and I'm stickin' to it.

Tonja said...

I'm definitely late for breakfast. I don't know what I'll do quite yet. I think if I'm doing all this work to write stories, I'd like people to read them. So I guess whatever it takes is what will happen for me.

Mina Lobo said...

I think querying could be helpful if agents provided actual feedback (I totally understand that's not what they get paid to do, nor is it their responsibility to educate us on how to become better at querying/writing. I'm just saying, there's really nothing helpful about a standard, "It's not a good fit for me," or, "I didn't get as jazzed about it as I'd have liked."

One really helpful rejection came from a magazine to which I'd submitted a short story. I was advised to trim, trim, trim those adverbs, which was wonderfully useful and a tip I always, always, always remember. Now *that* was a learning experience. :-)
Some Dark Romantic

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

My breakfast was oat bran porridge with two low fat yogurts!
Querying is such a pain but a necessary evil!

Jolene Perry said...

Well - I've gone all three routes.

I have an agent, and am on sub.
I published with smaller publishers.
I've self-pubbed.

I think there's good and bad to all things.

my feeling is that unless you're self-publishing, or publishing through an ebook only publisher, PUBLISHING TAKES FOREVER. All parts of it.
I have a book that's been on sub for 8 months. When/if it gets picked up, it'll be 14-24 months before release, not to mention the 1-4 weeks it'll take to put the contract through myself and my agent.
SO - once you realize that it's a PROCESS, I think you can relax into it. AND that's where it's nice to be able to self-publish other titles and feel like your work is getting OUT there already...
So - a,b and c. :-D

Carrie Lynne said...

I can't stomach I stick to coffee from my Keurig machine. Later on I will have oatmeal. I like this idea of how to make new bloggy friends. Thanks.

DL Hammons said...

The system is flawed, but then so are most systems. I see the rise of self-publishing eventually changing the query process, but as like all things in the publishing industry, it will come slowly. :)


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