On writing || Never pray for humility, or you may end up here

Never pray for humility. You may end up writing a book.

It is very difficult to think you’re all that when you see some of the nonsense that appears while you write. But even if your ego makes it relatively intact to the end of editing that last draft, never fear, for a whole new agony awaits.

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen to the next step in writing — trying to get someone to read it. Not just any someone, but a special someone. A someone who knows the publishing industry, who can help take that manuscript you’ve been working on for years to the next level.

An agent.

But first you have to convince them they want to read it.

Welcome to the wonderful world of querying.

It started when I sat down to write a letter. I figured that, hey, type up a few sentences, slap my name on it, and hope someone gives me a chance. Then I remembered an ebook on querying I’d bought, and thought I might as well read it for any good tips. That was two months ago.

Oh, query letters. And I thought writing the book was hard.

It starts with research. A lot of research. Research that focuses on a single thing – who to send it to. I have never spent so much time agonizing over who to send a letter to. And you don’t need a few names. You need a lot of names. Most books I read said 50-100 names. Why, may you ask? For when you get rejected! Not if, but when. Because you will get rejected, over and over and over. This is one thing everyone agrees on.

Once you know who you’re going to send it to, it’s time to figure out what to send. In 2-3 short paragraphs, you must convince the agent to give your book a look. No pressure.

But then, finally, the big day comes. You’ve got your query letters. You’ve got the author bio and the synopsis. And you’ve got the first 5/10/25/50 pages, depending on submission guidelines.

You begin by sending yourself a test email, where you make sure everything looks right and you’ve not messed up any information (like your blog’s url…yeah…) You send it a couple times, just in case you’re crazy (which at this point you are — if writing the book didn’t make you mad, the querying process surely has.)

Finally, once it’s all in order (as far as you can see), you carefully — oh so carefully — make sure names and email addresses and submission guidelines match…and press send.

Most agencies send a message almost immediately letting you know they’ve received it, and then you enter the next level of querying. Waiting. It will take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of months to hear whether they want to read more (not if they want to take you on, mind you — that will take even longer. Right now, you’re just trying to get the manuscript into their hands.) And not all agents send rejections letters. This is where you learn that patience is still a virtue, and you have very little of it.

So, this is where I am right now. The first round of queries was sent out over a week. So far two rejections have come in. The next round went out yesterday. More rejections will no doubt show up soon. But there’s hope, too. Hope that someone’s interest will be peaked enough to ask for the full manuscript. Will it happen? God only knows. But through all this, I can only think of one simple word of advice:

Never pray for humility. You may end up writing a book.


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