Article’s recipe: Inspired by Sarah J Maas’ remark in regard to my querying frustration & by Erika Mark’s epic journey to publication
The writers around you are landing agents, signing contracts, promoting their up-coming novel–you see this, grow envious, and the moment you send out your first batch of query letters, a clock puffs into existence. A clock that tells you that time in running out. Hurry and get published!
My advice: Get a hammer and SMASH that clock to smithereen.
When I first began querying, sending out a batch of twenty-four emails to agencies, I was determined to settle for *any* agent who’d make an offer. After all, unpublished authors cannot be choosers…Right? The desperate underdogs must accept whatever opportunities open up for them. Right…?
My mindset has changed. Somewhat. When Sarah sensed my desperation to land an agent within this year, she told me about how she looked back on her querying days and wondered WHY she had been so determined to get an agent RIGHT AWAY. She reminded me that writing would afterall be my LIFETIME CAREER. So why the rush? If you have a LIFETIME to achieve a goal, what does it matter that you get published now, or in five, ten, fifteen years?
You might say: Yes, yes, it MATTERS because the world is missing out on a great book. BUT there is NO biological clock ticking away in a writer’s life. If querying doesn’t work out, don’t sweat it. TIME IS ON YOUR SIDE. NOT AGAINST YOU.
Querying is like…like searching for your soulmate in life. There are MILLIONS of people to choose from. And among the many, there is the right one for you (ehm, the soulmate theory is totally debatable, but I digress). You’ll be courted, and it might not work out–as in, you might meet an AGENT, but s/he might not share the SAME VISION of your manuscript as you do, and so you might choose to move on. You might feel the social pressure around you, to marry SOON, because you’ve hit your 30s. But just as a woman shouldn’t feel pressured to settle for ANY man, (or to get married AT ALL), a writer should not feel pressured to settle for just ANY agent. NO husband is better than a BAD husband / NO agent is better than a BAD agent.
If an agent rejects you, know that the right one is somewhere out there for you. And you WILL find her/him. It just might take a few hundred more query letters, or a few more years. So NEVER lose hope!
I read an article written by this one agent, I forget who, but s/he was talking about how unpublished writers should enjoy their days before publication. Once you get published you will [always?] be writing to meet DEADLINES. If you get a two-book deal you’ll be writing sample chapters of a story that you have yet to write the end of [or something along these lines]. Of course, if *I* ever get published, I DON’T think I’d want to trade that moment with my unpublished days of freedom. BUT, just saying, when it comes to writing, it’s the journey that matters!
P.S. There seems to be many writers in the querying stage. Cheers to you all!
P.S.S I finished reading Pillars of the Earth: So. Friggin. Good. ‘Nuf said. [Actually, no. Not enough said. I’ll be writing a review of the book]