Roller Coaster

The writing life certainly has its ups and downs: As the song goes, “some days are diamonds, some days are stones.” Some days you seem to make progress and some days, things feel sluggish and you have to fight just to feel any sense of accomplishment. The same is true of the query process: trying to connect with agents and pique their interest isn’t easy. Many of my query letters, which I’ve put lots of time into tailoring, seem to disappear into cyberspace. That seems to be the norm.

Here’s what happens: When you don’t hear anything back it’s easy to assume that people just aren’t interested. And when you do finally hear from people, sometimes all you receive is an automated “thank you, but no thank you,” note. When you hear from an agent personally and they take a pass on your project, it can be pretty dispiriting. Sometimes they offer very helpful advice, but still, it’s tough. And occasionally, your email box brings good news: someone wants to see all or part of your project.

Recently, in a 48-hour period, I went on a roller-coaster ride: one agent asked to see my work, one took a pass, a few others didn’t respond, and then one agent I had sent three notes to said that for some reason, my first two notes had fallen through the cracks and she’d be happy to take a look. Wow, am I glad I decided to give it one more go!

Up, down, up — the whole process can be dizzying and jarring. One valuable lesson I’ve learned from query land is this: when you hit a rough patch, the best way to handle it is to not to pull back, but to increase the level of your effort. Here’s why:

We have no control over how someone will respond to our work, but we do have control over the level of effort we invest. And the more effort we put in, the better we feel about ourselves and about our chances for making something happen. Persistence empowers. So if you’re feeling low about some phase of your writing, don’t put on the brakes — step on the gas. And write on.

About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
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2 Responses to Roller Coaster

  1. gold account says:

    When all is said and done, you need to remember one thing: Almost any agent is looking for a reason to not read your book. Any agent who just read that sentence is probably throwing his or her hands in the air at that statement, saying, “How can Sean say that? We make our livings off of the books we sell!” Well, I stand by my assertion. I have read the most asinine reasons by agents for rejecting books based on query letters. I have read and listened to some of the most offensively stupid arguments imaginable for snubbing queries—things that don’t even have anything to do with the writing or the book itself. Things like, “I didn’t read her letter because she wrote it in standard business letter format and put my address at the top…like I don’t know my own address!” Yes, agents will even reject people for trying to be professional and respectful. I had no idea that business letter format was a major turn-off for many agents, despite the fact that one of the books I purchased on writing query letters provided examples written in business letter format.

    • Hi Sean,

      Thanks so much for your comment and for taking the time to share your
      thoughts on the querying process. I think anyone who goes through it
      will agree that it’s challenging and it’s often hard to figure out
      why and how agents make the decisions that they do. In the end, I
      believe that it’s best to believe that agents are looking for
      wonderful stories to bring into the world. They stand at the
      crossroads between storytelling and selling — and that’s not
      an easy place to be.

      Write on,
      Karin

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