January 19, 2019 by Sarah Van Goethem
My Querying Path
As a writer, I hear it all the time: EVERYONE’S PATH IS DIFFERENT.
Very true, very true.
And yet we all flock to the posts about querying and going on submission, hoping for statistics, hoping for some shred of enlightenment to help us find the answer to when is it my turn?
Does it help? Maybe.
At least we know we aren’t alone.
So here it is, the first part of my querying journey:
I decide to write a novel, my first one ever. In approximately 3 months, I’m done. Wahoo! I WROTE A FREAKING BOOK. I give myself an award and drink all the wine.
I join Twitter. I find the community. I start following other writers, because I’m one of them now! I see other people are querying. YES. That’s exactly what I should do (with my first draft obviously).
I google how to write a query.
I search for agents that may want what I have written.
I query 4 awesome looking agents (with my first draft). (SIDENOTE: DON’T DO THIS) Also, 4 queries should be enough, right? All of them should want this book.
I see everyone on Twitter talking about something called PITCHWARS. I start following the hashtag and discover this is a pretty big thing in the writing world. I should totally apply (with my first draft).
The more I follow PITCHWARS, the more I learn. So many great writers are giving such solid advice. It dawns on me I know nothing and I QUERIED A FIRST DRAFT. Kill me.
I make an excellent CP, and win some giveaway critiques. I learn that my book… isn’t…perfect. GASP. I suck.
I make some edits (as best as I know how, what is editing??) and apply to PITCHWARS. What have I got to lose? I even pay the $20 to apply to an extra 2 mentors (we could that year) so 6 in total.
I get 3 requests for the full manuscript!!
Shockingly I also get 2 requests out of the 4 agents I queried not long ago (with that first draft). Maybe I don’t suck?
The night of the PITCHWARS announcement I drink a lot of wine and bite my nails off.
The list goes up. I quickly scan the 3 mentors names who I applied to. They didn’t pick me. I need more wine. But wait, as I get up to retrieve the bottle…I spy out of the corner of my eye, my name. Beside a mentor that never EVEN REQUESTED FROM ME.
Right away, there’s a tweet from Jenni Walsh, will you be my mentee?
YES YES YES YES OMG YES. ALSO YES. DID I SAY YES?
I email the 2 agents that had requested, telling them I’m in pitchwars and I will send the ms after the agent round.
So, PITCHWARS is hard. I have to learn a lot, and fast. I know nothing. I am a total newbie. I went into this barely knowing how track changes worked. Go ahead, laugh. We all start somewhere.
Jenni has the patience of a goddess, and I will forever love her. But it’s a tough two months.
By the agent round, I am dying. It’s possible I hate my own book. I might be nauseous opening the file now.
SIDE NOTE: Would I go back in time and NOT do it? Not a chance.
The agent round comes, and my pitch and excerpt go up!! FOR AGENTS!!
AGENTS ARE REQUESTING MY BOOK.
18 requests in the showcase.
Then I start querying as well.
I send 59 queries from November ’16-March ’17 (this includes pitching it in PITMAD).
Out of these I have 23 Requests.
But I also do the thing everyone says to do while you are querying. I WRITE ANOTHER BOOK.
It’s not easy to do while I’m constantly thinking about the one I’m querying, when opening my inbox is a roller coaster ride of rejections or requests, but I want to do it.
If this book doesn’t get me an agent, maybe another one will. I don’t want all my eggs in one basket. And also-it’s addictive.
I send the new ms to CP’s and betas and do some edits.
It seems, in the past months after pitchwars, that everyone has an offer except me (SIDENOTE: this is not true, but we all know our perception can be off in this business).
But now! Yes now! Another chance! I have this new book I desperately want to query. But no offer on the first, and there are still quite a few agents sitting on my pitchwars ms.
The general consensus is to query one book at a time.
WHAT DID I DO?
I’ll tell you in my next post, HOW I GOT MY AGENT.