Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Surviving Query Hell Part 2 of 4


Continuing my treatise on how to survive Query Hell, welcome to part 2! 



To recap, my first three "tips" for surviving Query Hell were:

1.  Have a Really Good Book
2.  Get a Life
3.  Keep Copies of the Close Calls



4.  Have a Support System.  You're going to need a strong support system to survive query hell.  It doesn't matter who it is, it just has to be one or more people who are going to sit next to you while you lick your wounds and never fail to say, "It is GOING to happen for you.  I believe in you.  Don't give up."  Even when it looks like "it" happening for you is the last thing that will happen.  Ever.  Even when images of hell freezing over whilst pigs fly above it are assaulting your brain on an endless loop.  You need people to vent to when you feel like giving up.  To encourage and comfort you when you feel low, talentless and pathetic.  For me, my staunchest supporter from the outset was my mom.  Year after year she stood by with words of encouragement.  Never once did she falter.  For every high and every low, she was there--steady and faithful.  Later, I was lucky enough to meet the brilliant Nancy S. Thompson who became a very close friend.  Now I can lament to her too about any writerly woes that arise and in some ways it is more satisfying because Nancy is on this road too and she completely understands the business.  So I think it's good to have some non-writers and some writers in your corner.





5.  Keep Writing.  I know, I know.  Everyone always say this and you want to roll your eyes but it's the truth.  Getting your head into something new and remembering how much you love the act of writing will make query hell a lot easier.  Also, when you inevitably hear the "most people don't get published till their second or third book" spiel, you'll take some small measure of comfort in the fact that you're working on something new.  Also believe me, if the time comes when you're finished a second project and you can begin querying for that project too, you'll feel better having two irons in the fire. 


6.  Remember the Time Difference.  In the publishing industry, a day is not a day.  A week is not a week.  A month is not a month.  You get the idea.  When an agent says, "I'll look this over and get back to you in a day or two" what that really means is somewhere in the vicinity of two to four weeks.  If they say they'll get back to you in a week, you're looking at one to two months.  At least.  One month is really between three and six.  Is this because agents are a-holes who like to mess with us?  Not at all!  I've actually found most agents to be pretty nice.  But they are busy as hell.  Think about it--finding prospective clients is only a very small portion of what they do.  Most agents have a lengthy list of clients.  For each client they are responsible for reading the work(s), suggesting revisions, reading the work(s) again, (rinse, repeat if necessary), choosing the best editors for the work(s) in question, pitching those editors, following up with those editors, negotiating contracts and who knows what else.  But let's just say they're doing those things for 20 people.  Or 40.  They've got their hands full.   Plus they are fielding upwards of 50 queries a day.  Personally, I don't know where they find time to read anything at all. So be patient.  It's not like Dream Agent 3000 is sitting in front of her computer twiddling her thumbs and humming absently to herself waiting for your query to pop up.  Dream Agent 3000 is working her behind off for her current clients and believe me, they come first.  As they should.





Stay tuned for Part 3 tomorrow!

15 comments:

  1. Great stuff, Lisa, and thanks again for sharing.

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  2. Thanks for sharing! I will be there soon and plan on popping back here to remind myself of how to survive it :)

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  3. You know what helps me the most? (and I know this is going to sound awful!) but your pictures of your rejects filtered throughout this post. You display them proudly, but also it makes it more real that I'm totally not alone here. And you've got that agent! Even with all these! Just makes it seem like query hell ain't as bad as I thought. :)

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    1. Now the stupid threaded thing works. I haven't been able to get it to work! Anyway, as per my comment below: Tip of the iceberg. Seriously. I had been thinking about doing a kind of pictorial as a final post at the end of this week displaying a lot more than what's here. Perhaps I will!

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  4. My threaded comment thing does NOT work today.

    Jeff & Hope: Thanks!

    Cassie: Tip of the iceberg. Seriously. I had been thinking about doing a kind of pictorial as a final post at the end of this week displaying a lot more than what's here. Perhaps I will!

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  5. I loved that you included snap shots of the rejection letters. I used to keep all of mine but I've moved around so much that I've had to let them go. My favorites were the slightly condescending ones. ;) Support system - a MUST.

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  6. Oh yes, a support system is extremely important. I know I could never have gotten this far, let alone continue on a day to day basis, without YOU. I'm trying to get to the keep writing part, at least on something new. I just wish the first ms would let go of me already! And I'm learning that lesson on time. It's been 5 months already! Come on!

    Great post, Lisa!!

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    1. I'm so glad we found each other!!! You're going to get snatched up this year. I just know it!

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  7. Learning how to tell "agent time" from "normal time" is a pretty big deal. Like you, I've waited up to a year to hear back from people. In what other business would this be acceptable? But what can you do?

    Keep the advice coming. :))

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    1. The only other profession is the legal profession. You wouldn't believe how long things "sit" in this profession! LOL. Yeah, my fiance thinks that I'm somehow being scammed because it makes no sense to him that it takes so long for people in publishing to get back to writers!

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  8. For some reason, the only way to get the threaded comments to work is to first comment myself. Makes no sense.

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  9. Just hopped over from Nancy's blog and I loved your suggestions for getting through the query process. I'm there right now, dipping my toe in, but I really need to dive right in.

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  10. You kept those rejections?! You are so brave. Or crazy. Maybe both!(kidding. Definitely cr...brave. ;)) No matter, bc they certainly make your post so much more interesting. I can't wait to read the rest.

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  11. You are my querying-hero.

    Not only are you a huge part of my support system, but you write kick-a posts like this one. Thanks for sharing! :)

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  12. Great tips. Yes and yes to keep writing. Perseverance is the key, I think.

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