Query Hell

A robot devil with a top-hat and a pitchfork standing over Bender from Futurama, while Bender holds his hands to his forehead and looks distressed.
I may currently have the robot hell song from Futurama stuck in my head.

It’s January.  I’ve finished a new manuscript, which means it’s time to query on my old one.  Why does it mean that?  Because I’m full of the finished-novel high and it’s a time of boundless motivation and energy.  So I’m putting the to good use to conquer something I dread.

I hate querying.  I hate trying to sell my work, and myself, to people who don’t know me.  I don’t like random contacts and I feel like everything about these interactions is judged, even though I know that in reality there’s probably just some tired agent on the other end shrugging and sending a form rejection.  I invariably screw something up (like the first query, in which I typoed my word count at 77,000 when it’s really 70,000, whoopsie) and it gives me something to beat myself up about for the rest of the day.

But I keep doing it, because I haven’t given up on traditional publishing yet, and if I’m doing traditional publishing, I want a professional to help me sell my work.  I think this is the lawyer in me.  Sure, you CAN represent yourself in court, but you really really REALLY should have a professional do it.  They know all the sticky little rules and procedural stuff.

So here I am, assembling my list and paring it down and sending out my queries to the professional representers in the writing field.

When I hear of authors querying hundreds of agents, it boggles my mind.  This year, my list of agents I’m looking at for Surviving the Plague is… eight.  Eight whole agents in the entire world who I feel like would be a good fit for this manuscript based on their stated interests and the story I’m trying to sell.  Eight letters before I shrug, set aside Surviving the Plague for another year, and wait for the rejections (or hopefully maybe the lucky R&R but I’m not holding my breath but man that would be nice) to roll in.

I have prepared my querying materials, the basic body of the cover letter, the synopsis, the sample chapters, anything they might ask for, long in advance.  Long enough in advance to revise those just like I have revised the story itself, trying to polish until they shine.  So really, Query Hell is just three days of research and querying, while I’m at my highest of novel highs, and then it’s over.

I can do this.

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