letters from the query wars 12.2.2011

# of queries responded to last week: 84
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: crime novel

# of queries responded to this week: 193
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: n/a

From a comment on a previous query wars post:
Authors tend to moan about how the game is rigged against them, but you make your living off this too. I’m making an assumption there; I guess you could moonlight as a hired gun. But considering that this is your livelihood, do odds like those posted above make you balk a bit as well? I’m sure you’d rather be inundated with good material than having to waste time on Grandma’s 8 query letters for lil’ Billy. As an author it can be hard to keep sending query after query after query. As an agent, how do you maintain your tenacity in receiving [bad] query after [awful] query after [terrible] query?

Moonlight as a hired gun, hmm…. Let’s not talk about my private life.

Last week, I had intended to post about why I was thankful for the query system. Then, the holiday caught up with me. This comment above tangentially touches on that aspect, though.

Maybe my perspective of the odds after so many queries has just been simplified. If I take a step back and look at the sheer number of queries and the percentage of requests, then sure, I might end up wondering about the effectiveness of mining them. However, if I try to think of each query as a point of possibility — of discovery — that changes the picture. Sure, some of them will be wrong for me. Some of them probably shouldn’t have been sent to me in the first place. But it only takes one.

And without the query system, I could take a long look at how empty my client list would be. Some of those clients came by referral. But a lot of them – including the two I’ve signed up so far this year – sent me a query.

What about tenacity from the writers side? How do you keep sending query after query until you find a home for your story?

7 responses to “letters from the query wars 12.2.2011

  1. How do you keep sending query after query until you find a home for your story?

    Getting rejected is functionally the same outcome as not querying at all. So if it’s all the same whether I try, but fail, or not try at all, why not try?

  2. For much the same reason it sounds like you continue to look at them. Sure, I might get rejected or it might not be a good fit, but if I don’t send queries there’s a zero chance I will meet my future agent.

  3. I like to be positive so I don’t keep track of the number of times I’ve been rejected. If I had to guess I’d say I’ve been rejected more times than by all those girls in my middle school years combined. I’ve talked to folks trying to be published who keep all their rejection letters in a nice neat folder. For me it would be too depressing to focus on the negative, I’d rather have that sense that the query I’m sending now will be the one.

    But in reality I love my story and I don’t think I could stop if I wanted. And like I tell my daughters, you only lose when you quit trying.

  4. How do you keep sending query after query until you find a home for your story?

    I suspect that quite often, one doesn’t. I queried my first book maybe 25 times; not getting a single nibble on any version of the query suggested “it’s not them, it’s me,” and I shelved the book in favor of working on a new project. It’s a highly inefficient system by any standard 🙂 but it’s hard to think of better one.

  5. How do you keep sending query after query until you find a home for your story?

    Have two egos. One that’s massive and a bigger spare for when the first one gets beaten down and needs some alone time.

  6. “How do you keep sending query after query until you find a home for your story?”

    The obvious answer is because I believe in myself and the story I’ve told, and believe there are others who would enjoy it.

    The darker side of the equation is that I’m in way too deep to pack it in. I passed my personal event horizon on this dream about a decade ago, so if I quit now, all that time spent submitting, fretting and being depressed when the rejections came back would have ultimately been for nothing. Pure and simple, I can’t stomach that idea, so it’s off to submit I go.

  7. Debbie McClure

    I guess it’s like they teach us in real estate sales school (ever tried cold calling?). Every “no” is one step closer to the much prized “yes”, which makes all the “no’s” inconsequential. Get up, fall down, dust off, get up, fall down, dust off…

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