- Work on something else
Everyone says this one, because it’s true. Once you start working on a new idea, a new plot, new characters — the queries you have out won’t seem as urgent. That’s because you’re not betting it all on one book. You have something else to work on and query if your other MS doesn’t end up getting you an agent. And if you used CPs, Beta readers and edited the Bejesus out of your WIP like I did, chances are the next book you write is going to be a much better one anyway.
2. Use Query Tracker in Moderation
Query Tracker is a great tool for…keeping…track of your queries. Duh. It can also drive you insane, if you let it. Make sure you’re not becoming hypnotized by those little purple offer of representation faces, discouraged by the red faces of rejection or obsessed with the green ones that equal requests. I’ve also seen many people lose hope for agents based on their response times and close them out when not much time has passed. Just remember not everyone is on QT, and not everyone logs every single query and response they get. That means the data you’re working with is not 100% accurate, so try not to make assumptions based off of it. No news is no news, unless it’s been months and months with no word (and even then sometimes good stuff happens), anything is possible. Sure you can keep track of where your agent is on their timeline, and see if it looks like they might be getting closer to you, but you won’t really know anything until you get a response (hellooo not everyone uses QT.)
3. Let it go
You can only check your email so many times before you have to accept there’s literally nothing you can do about the queries you have out right now. Refreshing every seven seconds won’t make that response come any quicker, live your life and take care of yourself. Obsessing over how long it’s taking will make it seem like a lot longer of a wait than it actually is. There are, I’ve noticed, a large amount of writers who insist on nudging all the time/way to early/the moment they have had enough of waiting. I would say to err on the side of caution with this one. Though it’s true some agents appreciate a gentle nudge, and even ask writers to do so sometimes, it can get tricky-especially if they already requested pages. The rules for query wait time versus a partial, or full can change from agent to agent. Don’t sit there counting down the seconds till the agent said it’s okay to nudge on their website. Be patient.
4. Don’t overshare on Twitter
Maybe this is just me, but I think it’s sort of weird when writers share every rejection, full request etc. on Twitter. For one, it’s not a great idea to let agents know you’re being rejected. Sure, they might assume it’s happening but let them think everyone loves your work. Don’t list the ten rejections you got this morning or talk about how stupid/blind/cruel the agent is for rejecting you. Similarly, announcing fulls, page requests and every last thing that goes on when you query might be somewhat of a turn off for agents. Will you be able to keep your cool & be discreet when your book is out on submission with editors? Will you complain about a rejection from a big publishing house, publicly? If you’re doing it during the query process, it could lead agents to believe you’d do it on submission. It’s better to celebrate/vent about the process in a smaller group, on Gchat (where all the juicy stuff goes down) or you know, not where everyone can watch your every move.
5. Have a support group
Having writer friends who get what it’s like to be rejected, is so crucial. You could try to tell your normal, non-writer/non-weirdo friends about the process, but by the time you explain what a “full” is you’re going to regret it so hard (probably.) And even if they get the technicalities, they will never understand what it actually feels like to write a book, to work so hard on something and watch people reject it over and over and over again. And to keep sending it out anyway. Get a group of writing friends, start or join a FB group or email chain, exchange numbers with your CP (sup Anna send me some emojis, girl) and text them updates. Trust me, it helps.
6. Keep busy with stuff other than writing
Exercise, play some video games, go to the movies, do something fun that’s not about your book, or querying. Read, knit your grandmother a scarf, teach your dog to dance and go on X Factor. Go outside for once, you hermit. Don’t be a writing robot. It’s boring for you and for the rest of the world that has to put up with you. If you’re doing other, fun stuff you’re less likely to be driving yourself mad thinking of that dream agent you’re waiting for a response from.
7. Know it’s a long process for almost everyone
Anybody who’s worth anything as a writer starts by sitting down and working hard on something. They’re passionate about writing, and pour everything they have into those pages. The thought of being published might set your heart on fire, but that makes you no different than 99.9 percent of us. The process is going to be hard. Period. At some point it will be a challenge, and this is true for anyone you speak to. Get used to the idea that it will be many, many months before you get any positive response from agents. Then, even if it’s not that long of a wait, you will be pleasantly surprised. But do not expect to send out a batch of queries, or send out five or six, and have an offer of rep in hand by next week. That’s just not how it works for most of us, so it’s best to be prepared for the long haul. Don’t put negative energy into the universe and say I WILL NEVER GET AN AGENT, either but be cautiously optimistic.
8. Be mentally prepared to revise
I have an agent friend who gave me some advice once. She said, if they’re rejecting without asking for pages, it’s your query. But if they’re asking for pages and rejecting after that, it’s your pages. Be ready to receive feedback from agents, and to tool around with your MS should you get a number of people pointing out the same thing. Or maybe you’re just not getting any response from your query and you need to rework it and run it past some new readers. Whatever it is, beginning the querying process doesn’t mean you won’t be editing again (because even after you get an agent you’ll be editing, honey.) Mentally prepare yourself to hear, “this needs work,” and have a game plan in mind for getting that work done.
9. Participate in contests
Not only can you get agent requests during contests like #Pitmad and #SFFPIT but you can also make friends by seeing who is participating and adding them to a writing friends list on Twitter. For contests like Pitch Wars, you can get feedback from fellow authors and the camaraderie is fantastic. I found a buttload of friends + my CP through Pitch Wars last year and because of them my book is seven trillion times better than before I entered. These contests are also a lot of fun. Here is a list of the upcoming 2016 pitch events.
10. Go to conferences
Going to conferences can be such a moral boost. You get to meet other writers in person, sometimes pitch to agents, and hear industry professionals give helpful and encouraging advice. Plus, you’ll be so busy trying to eat your ham sandwich before “Pitching a Picture Book” in hall three, you won’t even remember to refresh your email app. It’s a great way to practice pitching in person as well, and many an offer of rep has come from authors meeting agents at conferences. It’s a great way to make the querying experience a positive one, instead of just being stressful.
A special thank you to my boo Andrea Contos for helping me with some suggestions for this post, go follow her on Twitter!