8 Stages of Querying

NOTE: These stages are representative and are not indicative of any stage the author (me) is currently in. Although I have been in every stage at one time or another.

1) The First Query is Sent. Subject spends most of their time refreshing their inbox and planning an "I Have an Agent!" blog post. A small amount of time is also spent researching what to ask when an agent calls, how much time to give other agents to make a competing offer, and how much the average advance is for a debut author.

2) The 1st Rejection. Subject tells themselves everyone gets rejected. They try to remember what one is supposed to do to move on, but end up refreshing their inbox and staring at their query spreadsheet instead.

3) The 5th Rejection. Mild depression sets in. Subject looks at their spreadsheet, and the as-yet unanswered queries, with despair. They wonder if the problem is their query letter or their story or their opening pages or that one comment they made on Twitter where all the agents could see or the fact that their blog is white text on black background...

4) The 1st Request. Symptoms include an increased heart-rate and shaky hands, making it difficult to prepare the manuscript for the agent. Subject looks over the manuscript twenty times before realizing they're not paying attention to it because they were thinking about where they would do their first book signing. At this stage, the subject is completely incapable of working on anything new.

5) The 1st Rejection of the Full Manuscript. Subject suffers severe depression. They may stop writing or querying for days. Some subjects stay off the internet while others stay on to research self-publishing.

6) The 15th Rejection. Subject becomes resigned to rejection. They send out new queries reflexively, but don't really expect anything from them. Depending on feedback received and the state of the manuscript, subject may consider major revisions, a rewrite, or an entirely new novel.

7) The 4th Request. Subject exhibits a timid hope, but continues work on the new project. When new query responses arrive, subject experiences brief excitement before reminding themselves it's just another rejection. Subject begins to see things in their new project that they like. They wonder if maybe -- just maybe -- they could fall in love with something new again.

8) The Whateverth Rejection. Subject is excited once again. They have completely fallen in love with their new project. Rejections are noted in the spreadsheet but no longer obsessed over. Agents who express an interest in the subject's future novels are added to a new spreadsheet, and their blogs and Twitter feeds are followed.

Subject tries not to think about what will happen if the old project is rejected entirely while simultaneously reminding themselves they haven't lost anything. Their life is as good as it ever was before they even started writing, except now they have a novel to be proud of.

And hopefully, still, publish some day.


Dr. Cheryl Carvajal said...

Your hope is contagious. It's the love of the work that carries us, not the publication. Without loving what we do, writing is merely a job. And a not well-paying one, at that.

Adam Heine said...

Contagious. I like that.

I admit, I'm pretty driven by publication, but I also know how I feel when I don't write for a long time. It involves words like "lethargy" and "withdrawal."

linda said...

Querying certainly sounds tough. Hope I can hold on to as much hope, perseverance, and passion as you if I'm ever lucky enough to get to that stage!

jjdebenedictis said...

Spot on. All of it. Every freakin' word.

Glad someone understands! :-D

Joshua McCune said...

I remember buttressing myself every time I sent out a manuscript. Query rejections were fine, but manuscript rejections, oh, those killed. It's much easier to expect failure than dream of hope. Of course, when I got my yes, I was a complete, dumbfounded idiot when I first spoke with my agent... okay, not dumbfounded... blathering maybe.

Your yes is out there.

Hepius said...

Pretty much exactly my experience, except I never got to four requests.

I also self-published rather than move on to a new project. So far I am really enjoying it.

Nancy Thompson said...

Have you been rummaging around in my head, Adam? That is my EXACT experience, right down to the 4 requests. How weird. Still working on it though. Restarting with a new (dare I say kickass) query & freshly polished manuscript in September. And I just started the new project. I'm not giving on the first though.

Good post! I can tell it's "been there, done that."

Hugh Johnson said...

I'm at the 3rd request stage. I've been query rejected umteen times - electronic queries allow that.

The only cure for a broken heart is to start something new (if you've edited the letters off your queried novel pages).

Maybe this new baby will find a home?