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Querying Quandaries (a.k.a. how to read 12 chapters of my next book)

Since publishing my first novel in 2015, I have continued to pursue my writing career with my second science-fiction novel. I’ve mentioned it previously, but am now in the process of sending queries to literary agents in hopes of receiving representation.

Querying is a difficult process. The first version of my query is up to 14 rejections thus far, not including the agents who didn’t bother to respond.

Oddly enough, I am not at all discouraged by these rejections. There are a number of reasons for this.

1. The Michael Jordan effect: Growing up, I wanted to be a basketball player. I played for my high school team, and still play in adult leagues and on campus, but didn’t play competitively since graduating. When I was young, I never lost hope to play in the pros, especially because after any setback someone would say, “You know, Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team…and he is one of the greatest players of all time.” This is a true story, and can also occur in publishing. J.K. Rowling was rejected a number of times before Harry Potter (arguably the most successful book series of all time) was accepted and published.

2. The 100 rejections rule: I’ve heard you should not stop querying until you receive over 100 rejection letters. Even then, some people have not stopped. Taking it to the extreme, some authors have learned to like rejection slips. At this rate, I’ve still got 86 rejections to go. But I’m optimistic it won’t get that far.

3. QueryShark: There is a specific structure authors are supposed to build from when they write a query letter. For my first revision, I thought I knew better. I thought I could break the rules and my writing ability would overcome the fact I was breaking them. Fourteen rejections later, I’m realizing I should learn the rules to play by the rules before trying to break them. QueryShark has been a helpful website. I’ve read through their archives and even submitted my query for critique. I recommend this site to any aspiring writers looking to query in the near future.

Beyond these three reasons, I have certainly received support from friends and fellow writers. My latest step in the strive for publication has been to publish the first twelve chapters of The Sex Amendments on Inkitt. This company allows authors to post chapters on their website to possibly be published if a story receives enough buzz. If you’re interested in helping, or want an interesting read, please check out The Sex Amendments on Inkitt. If you are a writer and would like any help or support through the querying or writing process, I’d be glad to help and offer advice.