It’s not an easy thing to do. Querying, I think, is a highly stressful experience especially when you made a thing and have a dream and you’re fighting for it. You’ve put so much time and energy and heart into this thing you’ve made and now you want to get something out of it on the professional side rather than a few beta readers and/or critique partners who have loved it. It’s both terrifying and exciting, maybe even exhausting if you’ve been at it long enough.
After DVpit, I sent out a rush of queries. Some of them were full requests from the pitch event, others were partials or just the query itself depending on the agent’s submission requirements. My heart was pounding the whole time and I scanned every email looking for a flaw. Sometimes a mistake even managed to go through and, while my first instinct was to get upset about it, I tried not to dwell on it.
Am I calm? Not at all.
But I’m trying to be. I’m in a much better place than I was the first round of querying I did last year.
Know your book. Know your pitch, your comp titles, your aesthetics. Know the writing, the characters, the themes. Know your book from back to front and prepare to gush about it to gain interest. Know what is or isn’t working (and fix the latter). Go through your book as many times as necessary until you are satisfied with the draft, that it’s as polished as can be based on your own revision notes and the notes you received from others. Don’t expect agents to offer feedback with rejections. They deal with so many queries, there’s just no time for it! But don’t take that personally.
Write a query—or even several versions! Write a synopsis. Practice doing Twitter pitches. Get your materials ready to go. The more prepared you are, the less scary it could be (though my anxiety is like LOL NO IT’S STILL SCARY).
2. Get Feedback
Let others rip apart what you pieced together so you can see the loose threads and stitch it more securely. At this point, I’m not talking about the draft itself. I’m talking about your query and synopsis. Those are likely going to be the things that agents look at first. Some agents will ask for a synopsis, others might not. But your query needs to be perfect.
Look for feedback from those who are willing! Beta readers, critique partners, other writers looking to help, writers who are offering pitch and query critiques. Check forums or Twitter events. If you have the means, there are always people who offer critiques for a certain price! There are websites and newsletters that offer information about writing queries and places online where you can get your query critiqued. It’s hard to throw it out there, but it will definitely help to have others (including both those who have read and haven’t read your book) look at your query and help you figure out what is and isn’t working.
Edit them over and over again until you like the way they sound and can’t find anything you don’t like. Take the notes you’ve received and/or made yourself and put them to work. Make your query shine so that it’s easy to understand and the premise of your book is so exciting that it gets hearts racing and inspires those *grabby hands* gifs. If you’re still uncertain about your query, check the writers and authors who have blogs posts about getting an agent! Some might even have their query up so you can see a query that worked for them.
In my first round of querying, I sent out different versions of my query. I could tell immediately which ones worked and which didn’t. It wasn’t exactly the ideal way to figure this out, but it was information I stowed away from my next round. Having others look over your query first is prooooobably a better idea. *shrug*
4. Support System
Querying can be extremely stressful. Go into the #amquerying and #ontheporch tags on Twitter, maybe connect with some writers there. Participate in Twitter chats. Meet up with other writers in your area. I keep mentioning beta readers and critique partners and having others help you out. It’s such an important part of the journey because it changes it. My participation in writer Twitter only really began in December but the difference is monumental. Seriously. Reach out. Participate. Meet other writers, especially those you admire AND those who are in the same place as you in their career.
After #DVpit, I connected with some of the other writers who received lots of interest in their pitch. I thought I could lend support as someone who might understand what they’re going through. Doing so has made a huuuge impact on my experience. It’s made it less lonely and terrifying, though it’s always scary to reach out to people you’re not already close with. If I haven’t reached out to you, my DMs are open, especially if we’re mutuals!! If we’re not mutuals, we CAN be. I prefer some interacting (i.e. replies/likes) first but listen, I fully believe in boosting voices, especially marginalized voices. Bonus points if you’re a Filipinx artist because I am biased and want more art/stories from my culture.
Also, shout out to the Toronto Writer Crew! You guys have been so generous with your knowledge and support and I appreciate it so so so much.
Keep yourself occupied. Pick up a new habit or reclaim an old one. Learn to knit, pick up an instrument, practice some dancing, go bowling or skating or something! Treat yourself to keep yourself happy and excited. Read lots of books or write a new one. Meet up with friends! Make NEW friends! Maybe do all these things! Stay busy so you’re not constantly checking your phone notifications and emails in hopes of getting something good.
I’m too overwhelmed by querying to do much writing at the moment, so I’m taking the month to catch up on as much reading as possible and meet up with writer friends whenever I can!
6. Positive Affirmations
Remember that you wrote a book and that’s not easy to do. Remember why you wrote that particular book and why you love it. Remember the best, exciting things about that book. Look back at old work and look at how far you’ve come. Look back at your life and your accomplished goals and dreams.
You’re here! You’re writing! You’re creating something beautiful and valuable and worthy. Remember that, always!!!