Keeping Calm While Querying

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.

1. Prepare

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.

3. Edit

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.

5. Distractions

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!!!

 

At the end of the day, I find that there’s one thing to remember:
if it’s what you want, it’s worth it. 
Advertisements

April 2018 Reflections

LIFE UPDATES

  • Paneling/Signing + Meeting Toronto writers
    • This past month, I got to meet some amazing people in person! There’s a group of writers in Toronto who are incredibly talented and kind and welcoming. I hadn’t met any other writers in person before, though I have met authors. We met up at the panel and signing at Chapters Brampton with authors E.K. Johnson, Julie Dao, Rachel Hartman, and Morgan Rhodes! It was an exciting day of a brilliant panel with amazing questions and gorgeous answers. We had drinks later and talked about various writerly things that drew some strange looks from our server. I was so nervous but so excited and it was all so worth it. Writing is a solitary experience, but having this wonderful people in my life now makes it much less lonely and terrifying.
  • TAKING A BREAK FROM NOVELS
    • So, April was the month of getting things done. In order to accomplish that, I had to set the books aside for a while. It was a tough choice considering how many books I have set for my reading goal, but a necessary one. I reached a point where novels weren’t quite right for me. You’ll see what I managed to read this month and most of these books were poetry! I try to read as much poetry as I can these days to work on my voice and improve my prose. Not that I’m copying lines or phrases of course, just grabbing inspiration to pull together words in ways I hadn’t imagined before. Seriously, poetry helps.
  • Camp NaNoWriMo
    • I was very ambitious this month, desperately trying to get out this story that’s been in my head and growing and growing for several months now. I planned and plotted and expanded this little idea into something real. I had an outline and character bios and themes to touch upon. I did my research again and again until I figured out all the details of this book. It’s the first contemporary I’ve written, this #BakingFigureSkaterBook, and that proved to be a real challenge. With DVpit in the same month, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to accomplish both books. Annnd unfortunately, I was right. It was fun getting to play around with this book though! I didn’t win Camp NaNo, but that doesn’t mean I won’t finish this book.
  • Revising WHEN THEY BECKON
    • This was the other book that occupied my time. I’d planned on finishing revisions in February, but uh… things didn’t go as planned. So I wanted to get it all done in time for DVpit. 14k words scrapped, rewritten chapters, countless tweaking and polishing… A lot was accomplished! I focused more on that than my YA Contemporary. It’s the book of my heart, the one that I couldn’t not write, the story and characters filling my head for over two years now!
  • DVpit
    • I did a post on this pitch event because it was pure ridiculousness and nothing like I imagined, especially since I’d participated in DVpit last October with less than 10 likes from agents in total. Anyway, that happened. That was surprising. I’m still dealing with the aftershocks of that event, but hopefully I’ll have some news on that in the near future! Who knows!

BOOKS I’VE READ

  • Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust ★★★
  • Sweet Persuasions by Rochelle Alers ★★★
  • Mouthful of Forevers by Clementine von Radics ★★★★★
  • No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay ★★★★★
  • Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire ★★★★★
  • Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately by Alicia Cook ★★★
  • A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver ★★★

FILMS I’VE WATCHED

  • Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)
  • Risen (2016)
  • Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)
  • Berlin Syndrome (2017)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

TV SHOWS I’VE WATCHED

  • Timeless (2016-)
  • Once Upon a Time (2011-)
  • New Girl (2011-2018)
  • Black Lightning (2018-)
  • Imposters (2017-)
  • Into the Badlands (2015-)