So It Begins

Yeah, feels kind of like that.

 Tuesday night I sat down in front of my laptop, in itself not an unusual pose for the evening.  I opened the file named QueryFinal and tweaked it.

Tweaked it again.

Deleted the tweaking.

Deleted the whole thing.

Remembered another version stuffed in an e-mail somewhere.  Found said version.  Restored QueryFinal and pasted the newer version above the older version because. . . well, because.

Tweaked some more.

Went on-line to Query Tracker to check my list.  Did some more agent research.  Opened a new e-mail and proceeded to paste QueryFinal into the body.  Personalized the e-mail salutation and first line.  Quadruple-checked spelling, punctuation, and the agent’s submission guidelines, and then —

— my fingers hovered over the Alt and Enter buttons to shortcut key my way to the send e-mail function.  This was It.  The Moment.  What was I hesitating for?

I had picked my <cue music> Dream Agent to query first.  Sprinted right to the top of my list because, after all, no guts, no glory.  And because I’m equal parts Glutton for Punishment, and Just That Confident.  Or perhaps hopeful.  Worse, naïve.

Alt.  Enter.

Then the waiting.  Impatiently.  Even though, believe it or not, the last time I did this everything traveled via snail mail and waiting for months on just a query was pretty commonplace.

Even though my phone is set to alert me when an e-mail arrives, I probably checked it every ten minutes throughout the day Wednesday.  My hopeful side could already read the request for a partial.  The realistic side, closely resembling She Who Doubts, thought otherwise.

Thursday morning, 11:50 a.m. there it was, staring at me from the in-box and I froze.  The waiting was over.  Amazingly quick.  It was a bad sign.  A sign that the first drops of BD&L blood were about to be spilled.  I opened the standard rejection letter, complete with apology for the fact that it was a standard rejection letter, and sighed.  Of course, none of us wants a rejection letter.  Very few of us will ever strike gold right out of the gate.  But that doesn’t mean the rejection will slide off our backs like those damn proverbial drops of water from off a duck.  I know the nature of the business, I just wish I knew what they’d rejected.  Was it the query itself?  The premise?  The length?  A bad day at the office?  The genre?  The list is long and will remain forever unanswered.

But, the gates have been opened.  Many more queries to many more agents have hit the cyber trails while I try to formulate that nastier-than-a-query synopsis required by some on my list.

Write on!


  1. You’ve got the proper attitude about this. Just keep hammering away. Keep tweaking the letter, and keep sending out queries. Might as well plan on around a hundred. Maybe send out 5 a day for about 3 weeks. Oh, and since you’ll surely have time on your hands, get started on the next project!

  2. Standard rejection letters are so annoying! I think you shouldn’t over-think the reasons for the rejection and move on quickly to another query. Hopefully next time you’ll get a request for a partial, or at least a more personalized letter. I have started the query process only recently and I find it easier to deal with rejection by sending my query to another agent quickly after the negative reply. Also there’s always chocolate to deal with these things 😉 Good luck and keep writing!

    • Yes, I’ll be sending several out this week, getting right back on the horse — while munching a nice big chunk of dark chocolate. Nomnomnom

  3. I hate the term “rejection” for anything short of a full manuscript submission. How can an agent “reject” something s/he hasn’t read? I try to view them as “passes” instead. The reason could be any that you stated, and few agents give details at the query stage. Heck, some won’t even tell you why they passed on your full manuscript.

    I think you’ve got the right attitude, and we can’t succeed if we don’t try. We’re here to cheer you on (and pass the virtual chocolate when needed0!

    • Ooh, I love that way of looking at it. You’re so right, how can it be a “rejection” when they didn’t get past the hand shake.

      Thanks for the encouragement — and the chocolate! 😉

  4. I wish you the best of luck, because that’s what it boils down to. Hitting the right agent, who’s in the right mood, at just the right time. It’s a totally subjective process, so don’t let the rejections fluster you even for a moment. You know you’re a good writer. I know you’re a good writer. In time your many fans will know that too. 🙂

  5. Try not to be discouraged by one form rejection. Keep your chin up and keep trying.

    (I just read one of your old posts about Facebook and Twitter. The Rockin Robin song made me an instant fan. I can hear it in my head from high school chorus… 🙂


  6. Great post – I totally, totally feel you. Especially about the phone stalking. At least in the olden days snail mail only came once a day so you could at least get on with the rest of your day. By the way I also like the idea of a pass and virtual chocolate. If only real chocolate had virtual calories *sighs wistfully*.

    Best of luck with the query process. Somewhere out there is your new dream agent just waiting to meet you!

    • My argument is that real chocolate, if it’s dark chocolate — nomnomnom — is healthy because it contains antioxidants. 😉

      Yes, but the dang mail man never seemed to arrive at the same time, or even close to the same time, when I was waiting for him. Days I was working it wasn’t a problem, but days I was home. . . I’d walk out to check several times, in case I missed him!

  7. Tough luck, and…good luck! You’ll do well, I’m sure!

  8. I’m so sorry about this. I am in a similar situation, getting up the nerve to query–again–and I have a dream agent on the list. I avoided querying said Dream Agent the last two rounds of querying. Probably because deep down I knew my novel wasn’t ready and to be rejected from Dream Agent would be enough to send me over the edge.

    However, like you say, no guts no glory, and as I gear up to query I need to really put it all out there I think.

    Those form rejections are the worst because they don’t help you redirect. I understand it isn’t the agent’s duty to hold our hands and point out the problems. But even if I got a “plot needs tightening” then at least I’d know what to fix, or at the very least, decide if I want to fix it at all. Not every agent is going to love our book. One agent’s opinion doesn’t mean it’s going to be the same across the board. But for those of us authors who are serious about being traditionally published (because, seriously, we could just easily throw our books on Amazon and move on to the next project) I would do what is necessary to make my book the best it can be. That means, if an agent bothered to tell me where I went wrong, I’d be listening with both ears, mind, and heart.

    Stay strong 🙂

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