If you’ve trudged through the trenches of querying your book, you may have picked up on that miniscule yet significant detail that it’s ONE DAMN TRYING PROCESS! Yes, querying has been known to take down many an aspiring Austen or Dr. Seuss or J.K. Rowling. Querying, be it to agents or editors, is not a task for the feeble. So, if you don’t get an agent or editor after a few rounds of queries, you should simply find another passion to fill your heart with joy, right? No. No. NO!
As you may have heard before, and as I heard repeated several times at this past weekend’s outstanding NESCBWI Spring Conference, most writers swim against the current through waves of “no” to reach that one “yes.” Of course, there are always those I-landed-a-book-deal-with-my- first-submission stories (Gag! I mean...I’m so happy for you), but for most writers, querying requires persistence and patience, that same persistence and patience you tap into when crafting your stories. And if you’ve polished that story until it sparkles, done your research, followed the guidelines, and can tread water through the rejections, the yes will come.
This past March while reading picture book after picture book for ReFoReMo (Reading for Research Month), it became quite clear to me that there were far more books I didn’t love than books I did love. That is not to say the books I didn’t love were poorly written. Many were extremely good, but they didn’t strike a chord with me. It comes down to personal taste. And the ones that did strike a chord? It’s like hearing your favorite song performed live for the first time, and you’re in the front row! You’re in awe. Blown away. You want to hear that song again and again.
I finally got it. That’s how the agents feel. That’s how the editors feel. A “no” on a query (or even a full submission) does not mean your book is bad. But people in publishing get hundreds of queries a month. Your story must strike awe in their literary hearts. It must blow them away. They must want to read it again and again (and they’ll have to if they take you on). And they all have their own personal tastes. Of those books I read during ReFoReMo, there were only a smidgen that struck that chord in me. I liked many of the books, but I only loved a select few of them. If I were an agent, there were only a few for which I’d be willing to swim against the current to reach that magical bookshelf at the end of the publishing rainbow. I finally got it.
Querying is tough. The rejections are even tougher. But when that “yes” finally comes, you’ll have an ally who truly loves and has faith in your story. And you’ll only get there if you have faith in yourself, if you stay strong and don’t give up.
Write. Rewrite. Research. Query. Again and again and again until that “YES.” Your reward will be a passionate advocate for your story. And you’ll discover you’re stronger than you realized.
Got a querying success story? Please share it with us!