A Year in the Query Trenches

Posted Jan 3 2018, 7:00 am in , , , , , ,

Well, here we are again. A new year. A time to look back and say…wait, what?

Some years float in nice and easy like the egrets that glide over the lake in my backyard and some skid in hot and reckless like my 16-year-old when she’s late for school. I’m feeling more of the latter this new year…between college essays and Thanksgiving dinners and wrapping presents and ignoring my writing…here it is, 2018. Now what?

Like so many others out there, my new year means new goals. Some say resolutions. I say goals. I like setting goals. Unfortunately, I don’t always like keeping them. Maybe my new goal should be to meet my goals!

And this year I have a roll-over goal. It wasn’t accomplished last year so I’m packing it up and bringing it with me into 2018. Get an agent/ work to traditionally publish a novel. But that’s a daunting task when you think about the numbers. Most literary agents receive around 500 queries a month. And most agents take on anywhere from 3 to 10 new clients a year. The math ain’t pretty.

Self-publish, one might say. Well, in 2016, Amazon reported over 4 million titles in their Kindle store. How does your self-published book rise above water in that sea of eBooks? Answer: most times it doesn’t. Your uploaded book can easily drown under 1) beautifully written eBooks by well known authors and 2) horrendously unedited eBooks by no-name authors. A cold reality indeed. 

I commented last week on how I spoke recently about my journey to traditionally publish. I can add speaking about the process is WAY more fun than going through the process. As a writer who’s been querying agents for, drum roll please, almost one year…I know a lot about No. No has waltzed into my home via my laptop and snuggled on my lap next to my dog. It’s made itself quite at home. If you don’t like No, for the love of all that is holy, do not query agents.

Here’s an idea of my stats after a year of querying:

  • 84 queries sent out-total over the year (1st set of 10 queries sent out Feb. 2017)
  • 44 rejections
  • 10 full requests for the whole manuscript (8 of those have come back no and, believe me, those 8 have my attention; 2 are still out)
  • 24 agents never responded
  • 6 queries are still outstanding – probably to be filed in the above category

That’s where I am. I’ve read a writer shouldn’t stop querying until 80-100 rejections. That’s a lot of queries. That’s a lot of Nos. And for those writers out there in the trenches with me, you know querying a novel should be added as the 10th circle of Hell in Dante’s Inferno. Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, Treachery, and…Querying

So why do I keep writing knowing all these fun facts?

I love writing…and you have to love it to attempt such madness as to publish. Because writing is the easy part. Writing is where the joy is. It’s when you decide to share your writing with others that the chisel of reality starts chip, chip, chipping away. So we writers must have tough exteriors. We must shield our joy from the chisel. Keep it safe, protected, as we belly crawl under the barbed wire and hail of bullets, dive into the trenches, and send out another damn query. 

Happy New Year, everyone. Happy writing!



11 responses to “A Year in the Query Trenches”

  1. Gerry Moorhead says:

    Don’ Stop………I know you will be discovered. You are talented…..

  2. Michelle Yetman-Katz says:

    I love your strength and your stamina! Keep going, if nothing else, it will keep you creative, busy, happy and productive, in other words, a life well lived.

  3. Raegan says:

    Wait you sent out 84? And you have two teenagers and one who is a senior? You’re a bad ass! That’s awesome! You’re rocking it! Short term, long term, repeat. I love goals too!

  4. Carol Brown says:

    I am so proud of you and your sense of commitment. I am confident you will succeed.XO

  5. Cassie Rome says:

    If it was easy everyone would be doing it! I’m so impressed Jen. Keep up the great work!

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