Sweet Summertime Queries

July. It’s hot in Arkansas. The midges are out in full force and the ground is cracked from drought. The only place hotter than my current post is the hellish trenches of the publishing industry right now. Ok, I’m being dramatic…. Exceptionally dramatic, but not about the Arkansas heat.

But here is a bit of truth: If an aspiring author were to log in to Twitter today and peruse the #writingcommunity they might be tempted to throw their manuscript out into the abyss of Amazon self-publishing to avoid the hellscape that is the querying trenches. Writers are being beaten to a pulp by closed agent inboxes and “no response is a rejection” agent website taglines. A full request is so rare of a commodity that a tweet celebrating one elicits hundreds of responses echoing one another by grasping at straws to keep their hope alive. “One day I will get that full request!” everyone seems to say but will they really? Will I?

I don’t know the answer to that but here is an update on my journey to become a published author.

According to my query tracker here are my stats:
17 queries sent
1 closed based on no response
7 form rejections
9 open queries ranging from 24-46 days old.

Based on the fact that I have sent only 17 queries these stats aren’t yet discouraging. I am optimistic and hopeful and continue to edit and make my novel the best it can be for when that full request does happen. What I have seen in the #writingcommunity however is a loss of hope and writers who have sent hundreds of queries only to have less than 1% of those queries come back with a partial or full request and still sometimes no offer for representation. Now my knee-jerk reaction to this is “Oh their book must not be very good.” but I think that is a completely unfair thought considering the huge influx of completed manuscripts post the COVID lockdown. People actually had time to finish books I guess.

Anyway, my rambling leads me to reflect upon my own options and thoughts. Will I ever publish the book? Yes I will. Will it be traditionally or through self-publishing? I don’t know. What I have decided works for me is that I will query until August 2023 while writing the second book. If by that time UNDER THE CAROLINA STARS does not have representation I will pay an editor, hire a cover designer, market it to death and self-publish. That sounds ok but why do I feel like self-publishing is a failure? I know there are lots of successful indie authors out in the world and I have actually just finished an excellent book as a beta reader for an indie author. I would not call her completion of a well-written and compelling novel a failure so I should give myself the same grace.

To all currently querying writers: hang in there, keep plugging away, and when you don’t win the lottery with traditional publishing don’t give up hope. If you have finished a novel, whether traditionally published or otherwise you still may end up someone’s favorite author.

If you are unfamiliar with the publishing process here is a quick and over-simplified rundown:

  1. Write the book
  2. Polish it through self-editing or professional editing
  3. Have it read by beta readers and critique partners to get feedback on things that you may have missed.
  4. Craft a query letter and prepare your first 50 pages for sample reading.
  5. Send a personalized query letter to each individual literary agent that is looking for books like yours.
  6. Wait
  7. Wait
  8. Wait
  9. Receive rejections, requests for more sample pages, etc.
  10. Sign with a literary agent
  11. Work with your agent to polish your book further while they shop it around to traditional publishers
  12. If your book is sold by your agent to a publisher you are on your way to traditional publishing.

Published by ALNovelist

A mom, wife, educator, and fledgling author all rolled into one.

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