Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Queries and Kisses

Okay, so we've gone over how to write a killer query letter.

Now comes the really scary part, people.

Sending it out.

I happen to know for a fact that some of you are terrified of that. And you should be, cuz it's not fun out there in the query trenches. Not fun at all.

So why do we do it?

It's hard. Horrifying. Depressing. You're going to get rejected. Maybe a lot. Maybe a little. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

There's nothing worse than maybe -- which is why people (I'm looking at YOU) don't send out their query.

But if you never send your query letter out, you'll never get a full request. If you never send your query letter out, you'll never get published. If you never send your query letter out, you'll never progress past the point of where you are right this second.

It's sort of like getting that first kiss.

No, really.

If you never go out on a date, you'll never get kissed.

If you never ask someone out, you'll never go on a date.

And that's all the querying process is. It's asking an agent/editor out. Sometimes they say yes. Sometimes they say no. And if they say yes, you're on a little date. You know, a walk in the park. Lunch or something. And if they offer, then it's like the kiss goodnight.

If you've never been "kissed" that doesn't mean you won't be. It doesn't mean you're unkissable. It just means you've got to find that one perfect date. Sometimes it takes a lot of little dates to get to the front porch.

But you'll never see the front porch if you don't send your query letter out.

I know some of you are querying. I know some of you are close. I know some of you aren't querying or close to it. But how do you feel about querying? Are your insides like Jell-O right now? Or have you invested in steel and been coating your nerves in it for a few months? Why do you think you feel that way?

And I'm issuing a challenge to those of you clinging to the query letter fence and not sending it out. SEND IT OUT! Today. This week. At least by the 15th. Get off that fence. Ask that question. Make it to the porch.


**Disclaimer: No literary agents were actually kissed during my time in the query trenches. It's an analogy, people. *wink*

70 comments:

Corey Schwartz said...

Great post! (and boy am I relieved that I don't need to do this! :)

Jen said...

You are fantastic! You always make it seem less scary! I'm not to the query stage yet but when I am I'll definitely be looking back at your helpful posts!

Just the thought makes my insides feel like Jello :)

Bish Denham said...

I've lived long enough to realize that the worst that can happen is I'll be told, "No." And so far I've haven't died from being told "No." Personally I would rather be told "No" than hear nothing at all.

Georgiana said...

Love the analogy! Yes, querying is tough, and I suppose that's why we need teflon skin in this biz.

Christina Lee said...

LOL!! Yeah once you get past that "first kiss", it isn't so bad and somehow you do grow thicker skin from all the rejections!

Scott said...

I hate querying, it stresses me out, but so did Algebra in high school and I somehow survived without too much damage to my psyche!!!

At some point in the near future, I must begin the query process. First, I have to finish my current WiP since that was my goal at the start of this year. Next in line is writing the query for the project that's ready to query. Then, wait, wait, wait!! Arrrghhh!

Bethanne said...

that's an awesome analogy. I enjoyed my first read of the morning thanks to you. :D You're right it's a much of maybes... I'd love to hear your querying routine.

...hmm, maybe that's what I'll blog about this week. I've sent 51 queries had 29 rejections and 4 partial requests, with 3 of those requests ending up in rejection anyway. :P

It's a long hard road, but I'm getting there. :)

Janet Johnson said...

I want to know where you get that steel to coat your nerves. I could use some of that. :)

I'll be querying soon. Excited to get to that point, but yes . . . scary stuff.

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

Holy cow I felt like you were gently giving me a hint here. Gosh darn it you're right. The 15th, eh. I better get moving!

See this is what I'm talking about. Bloggers are inspirational.

Thanks Elana. I needed a pep talk lol! I have to watch last nights AI first.

lynnrush said...

Woo-Hoo! Nice post.

Send 'em out, everyone. You can do it!!

Kristi Faith said...

As always, great push to those of us that are on the fence. I'm close, but not polished...I've bookmarked this page for future redundant reference. :0)

Liza said...

I'm in a different place and not in the querying world...but this is an encouraging post. Nice Elana.

Candice said...

I have finally decided to start querying my second book. I'm getting my query letter in shape right now and then I'm going to start asking agents out. :) Scary...but I'm ready to get some rejection under my belt!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

LOL. You definitely write YA, Elana!

Great post!

Alli said...

Oh, I'm there, wearing my heart on my sleeve and eyeing off the front porch, desperately wanting to climb the stairs and lay that first big wet one on my date. So far I've had a couple of nice picnics and walks in the park, I'm just hoping they'll escort me to my door. :-)

Love your analogy Elana - and I'll be sure to ask for more dates today!

Jonathon Arntson said...

Good thing I'm nowhere near sending one out AKA the book's nowhere near finished, otherwise I'd be avoiding you and your pushiness.

;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;)

Word Ver: sochre, a slimy Southern dish?

Tess said...

and DON'T send it to one place. Researched, specific, thoughtful targeting .. but target a handful (6 or so). That's my two cents.

Portia said...

Perfect analogy! I've sometimes told friends that if I get enough of these dates, someone might want to put a ring on my book ;-)

Kat Harris said...

Great. I hope I'm not a late bloomer in this category too.

:-)

Great analogy, Elana.

Falen said...

i'm actually really really excited to get to the sending out phase. I can't wait to be there

Kayeleen said...

New goal. Finish rewrites by the end of this month so I can start asking out agents. Wahoo!

Stephanie Thornton said...

There is nothing better than a request for a partial, or even better, a full. It is definitely a kiss!

Which is funny in itself because a couple days ago I ranted to a friend that querying is like dating. Blecch.

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

Goal: to be standing under that porch light come September with my keys jangling in my hands, leaning in the 90%, waiting on the 10%. ;)
~ Wendy

Danyelle said...

*is close to resorting to agentnapping* O:)

Valerie Ipson said...

Thanks for the advice. I'll reread this in a few weeks when I'm done with the query letter!

Carolyn V. said...

I went crazy this weekend and started a new WIP, not quite ready to query, but the process frightens me a little. *biting fingernails*

Kristi said...

Great post Elana - I'll admit I'm terrified of the query process. I haven't started it yet but I have sent out my query (ninja-fied by you) for several contests. For some reason, contests don't seem as 'real' as querying so it feels less threatening. I'll wait to see what feedback I get from the agents on the partials they requested and go from there. Maybe I'll even start querying for realz! :)

Tina Lynn said...

Not ready yet. Not because I'm clinging to a fence, but because I need a query ready MS. But I'd like to think I'm coating my nerves in steel. Yep. I'm gonna be fine. *bites nails*

Jonathon Arntson said...

I'm glad you can read me! I am not sure agents around the globe will be quite so happy. Ha!

Tamika: said...

Great analogy! My first date actually went really well. We dated for seven years, though parted ways. I still appreciate all that I learned.

This time I plan to do a lot more praying and research before I jump over the fence and knock on the door.

coffeelvnmom said...

I've sent out a few this week - my first group of queries - and have gone into this process with the mindset that I will be rejected. I figure then I can be pleasantly surprised, instead of dejected when the rejections come through. Great strategy, eh?;)

Carol Kilgore said...

I'm out in the trenches now. It's tough. Bring BDU's, combat boots, and a helmet.

Abby Stevens said...

I'm somewhat nervous about the prospect of querying, but I think that's mostly because my ms isn't ready to query yet. I think the closer I get to my very best, the less nervous I will be - UNTIL I actually hit send. I've not experienced much rejection in my life, so I am sure it's going to take a few good rejections to toughen my skin, but I know that, in the end, it will be good for me.

Rebecca Knight said...

What a perfect analogy! :D

I was the new kid at my high school for my senior year, but I went to every single dance. Why? Because I asked boys to go with me! My friends were baffled because they didn't have dates yet, and I'd say "well, did you ask anybody?" They'd look at me, mortified, and say they could never do that. Those who ask, dance.

Thank you for this post :). Querying is scary, but we have to go for it, or we'll never have that exciting first kiss!

Laura Pauling said...

I usually don't have a problem with sending queries. This time around, I'm waiting, I'm sitting, I'm reworking my query 'till it's the best I can do - thanks to your advice. Rejection isn't fun, but there is a sense of hope that I thrive on when I have queries out in the big, big world.

Icy Roses said...

Awww, what a cute analogy! Yup, sometimes we just gotta take that leap of faith and not be afraid of rejection! What was it that someone said? Every time you get dumped, you're one broken heart closer to finding the right person. Well, I suppose every time you get rejected, you're one broken heart closer to finding the right agent, haha.

Nicole Ducleroir said...

What a brilliant analogy! You rock, Elana!! Pop over to my blog, when you get the chance. I left you a little something today!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Are my insides like jello? Um, yeah! Duh! Ha ha ha.

I queried too soon the first time, back in my pre-blogging life. Since then I have changed that story from a PB to a chapter book and really expanded the storyline. Now, I'm nearly ready to begin again, but I'm a little afraid of instant rejection because of the title (reminding them of my PB queries), which I don't want to change. Argh!

How likely are they to put the two together? It's been a year or two since I queried the PB version.

jbchicoine said...

I’m just about to send out my second round of queries, and I’m really not looking forward to it. As I brace myself for rejection, I’m sure I’m wearing my unkissbley scrunchy face—it prevents me from getting too hopeful, but probably keeps me from getting kissed, too.

Elle Strauss said...

Great, kick in the pants post. (hey, I think I just did that kind of post too, wink-nugde)
So glad I'm not in the query wars anymore, but I still fight this little voice that says, she probably thinks she made a mistake....:( In that small bit of my brain that deals with logic, I know it's not true. (probably) We are our worst enemy, aren't we?

Kelly said...

Fun post, Elana.
And I'm right there querying and I have the butterflies in my stomach. When is someone going to kiss me already? I'll even makeout for Pete's sake! ;)

Sliding on the Edge said...

Why is it that being scared along with everybody else seems to lessen the agony? Thanks, Elana for lessening my agony.

L.T. Elliot said...

Yeah, I admit to being a total wuss but I also know that I'm just not there yet. Soon. But not yet.

T. Anne said...

I love your kissing analogy!!! Mostly because I love, love, love to kiss. TMI? Anyway, my query and I aren't really getting along anymore. I'm resubmitting to my dream agent later this month (hopefully) so I'll have to dust it off and rework it to fit my resubmitting needs. If she scraps me all together I'll have to rework the query and start sending out to the masses once again. Yuck.

lotusgirl said...

I finally sent some out this month. Whew. And lo and behold got a couple requests. Wow. Yippee! It doesn't mean they will want to rep me, but hey, it's a step in the right direction. Still waiting and hoping and preparing more queries to send out and working on that next project.

Tina Laurel Lee said...

I always get here so late! Not ready yet. But when I am I will be sure to remember the kissing analogy!

lbdiamond said...

Are you talkin' to ME?...No, really, are you talking to me? LOL! It's really ridiculous not to send the query letter out there. Rationally I know that. Emotionally? Eep!

I hear your point, gotta send the letter to get the requests. So, is there such a thing as speed-querying? You know, like speed-dating? LOL!

Jill Kemerer said...

You know what's sad about me? I find it more depressing NOT to have queries out. Like you said, no query, no call. I can't wait to send out queries on my latest!

Nichole Giles said...

Okay, first...roflmbo! That is probably the best analogy I've read on this subject, ever. And when you put it that way, it doesn't sound nearly as scary. Because I did that whole dating thing. Lots. Didn't do a lot of asking, but had a lot of first dates and first dances. Now I need to practice that asking thing again I guess.

News: My rewrite is finished as of last night. New batches of queries going out by Friday! WML.

Mary Aalgaard said...

That kissing analogy is so wonderful. Oh, my. I think I'm more willing to query than try for that next kiss (divorced gal). I'm not ready, yet, in either realm.

Amie B said...

querying has been a total roller coaster ride. that's the best way to describe it for me. so many ups and downs.

the one thing that i've learned, though, through the process is that agents are human, and they really do want to see your books published. they're not out there to crush your spirits or to turn you off to writing. like you said, it's a dating process and the key is finding the "someone" that is just right for you.

some of us are lucky enough to get that right away, while others have to work a little longer, a little harder for it.

Paul Greci said...

Great Post, Elana!

Julie Dao said...

I am a querying wallflower. I haven't even written a query yet, let alone join the others on the dance floor. When my story is ready, I'll pop the question and start that treacherous journey towards the front porch... Love your analogy!

Melissa said...

Great post! I'm nowhere near the querying stage, but strangely I'm looking forward to it. After all, that's one step closer to my goal of publication:)

Natalie said...

It is so scary when that day comes! But so worth it. And it's good to get used to rejection--there's so much of it in this business. :)

Steena Holmes said...

My stomach is in knots every single time I send out a query.
I just recieved a response back from the #1 agent that I want - she hated the query. She ripped it to pieces. Talk about torching a hole through the bottom of my boat!

The good news though - after I rework it and make sure it's perfect (cause you know I'm not sending any more out right now), I can re-query her (which is reason to jump for joy).

Why do we find it harder to write a query than a novel? Geesh!

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Ha! That's great!

My time to get back out there is coming... possibly in a few months....

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm getting closer to - I'll come to you when I need that push :)

Jenn Johansson said...

Rejection and I got cozy a long time ago...in fact I think we're past just dating and moving on to serious. Should I develop a sudden commitment phobia?

Lorel Clayton said...

I love this series you've been writing on queries! I feel as though I can do this now...Just have to finish a book I think is worthy of querying.

Jessica said...

So true! That's how I made myself send out my first queries. Nothing can happen if I don't do anything.
Querying at first makes me feel literally sick. Sweaty hands, just yuck. After I get a few rejections though, I start feeling better and more determined. :-)

Lisa Nowak said...

Oh, I am totally with you on this! I have friends who are so afraid of rejection that they refuse to query. I can only kick them in the butt so many times. People in one of my critique groups actually seemed to think it was somehow easier for me because I kept sending out queries in spite of all the rejections. That was majorly annoying. No, it wasn't easy for me. It sucked. But I wasn't going to be a big baby about it. I want to get published, so I kept at it, no matter how demoralizing, depressing, and soul-crushing it was. And it paid off, because now I have an agent.

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Well, I'm finally posting a comment on your blog, Elana. About time, eh!

Just had to say that I look forward to meeting you at Storymakers in April! I'm going for the first time - yay! Can't wait. :-)

I'll be the one looking very lost . . . and YOU'RE a SPEAKER!!! I bow to you . . .

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I say this same think to one of my writing buds quite often. Gotta get it out there or you'll never know.

Aaron Polson said...

Rejection and I are going steady; I wouldn't want to "cheat" on her/him/it. ;)

Elana Johnson said...

Wow, thanks you guys! I really am trying to keep up with all the comments. If I can, I respond to you through email, so don't think I'm not watching the discussion here very closely.

I'm stoked that so many of you are gearing up for the query wars! Exciting stuff.

And congrats to those of you who've already fought a diligent battle. You're my heroes.

ali said...

I LOVE THIS!!! At first (yes it's true) I was thinking yadda yadda yadda, I'm over the query hump. I'm all steel now baby.

And then I got the date part.

And I was like YES! That's TOTALLY it.

And right now I'm totally and completely feeling like Josi Grossy who's never been kissed. But I'm determined to stand out there on that baseball diamond until my Agent Charming comes to give me that one perfect kiss.

C. K. Bryant said...

I'm not afraid to query, just want it to be perfect. I'm standing in my bedroom trying on one thing after another and my clothes are scattered all over the floor and I still don't have anything to wear on my date. I feel like if I send out that query, I'll be opening the door to my date and suddenly realize I'm NAKED. EEEK! That would NOT be a pretty sight.

Mary McDonald said...

I'm suffering from query fatigue. Is that a real malady? It has to be because just thinking of researching yet *another* agent to send my query to, makes me feel kind of sick. I've queried many so far, but I found out my query letter sucked. I now have a good one, I believe, but don't have the energy to send it out. For one, there aren't as many agents left to send it to anyway.

Indigo said...

I have to give you humongous kudos for that analogy. I would of never thought of comparing the query process with kissing.

It definitely works! (Hugs)Indigo

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