In honor of finishing Bob’s revision (yay!), I thought I’d share a few random thoughts on querying. This is what’s been bouncing around in my head of late.
“What’s the worst thing that could happen?” I ask myself this sometimes when I don’t want to do something, or when I’m afraid to do it. Sometimes the answer still isn’t very pretty (“Well, if I drive to the doctor’s office by myself, I might crash in the gorge and die a spectacular, horrific death”), but in the case of querying, the answer’s really not so bad. The worst thing that could happen is that every agent passes and I’m still right where I am. But where I am is good (I have a great family and a great life), so I could live with that. And if I could live with it, then I probably don’t need to be terribly afraid of it.
“Whatever you do, don’t settle.” I recently exchanged some e-mails with an online writing friend who had just received an offer of representation. Exciting, right? Well, it was exciting, but the thing was, the offering agent wasn’t one she’d queried (another agent at the agency had passed her manuscript off to this agent), and the offering agent had never sold anything in the same genre as this friend’s manuscript. When it came right down to it, even though the offering agent was a reputable agent with a good history of sales in another genre, this friend simply didn’t feel good about signing with the agent. “I want an agent for my whole career,” she said, “not just this one manuscript.” I couldn’t agree more.
At this point in my writing career, not having an agent doesn’t really scare me (see “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”). After all, I’ve gotten really good at not having an agent. What WOULD scare me is having an agent I wasn’t comfortable with, or an agent who was only interested in one of my manuscripts and not my full body of work, or any agent who wasn’t the right agent for me. Now I realize things change and it’s not unusual for perfectly respectable agents and perfectly respectable authors to end up parting ways, but going in, I want to feel like the relationship is going to last.
“Enjoy the ride on this crazy query-go-round, and don’t worry so much about how everyone else’s ride is going.” Another online writing friend--one of my critique partners, in fact--recently received an offer of representation, but in this particular case, the offering agent was absolutely perfect. My friend was so excited about this agent that she almost didn’t want to bother with contacting the others to let them know about the offer. (But this friend did still contact the other agents, because she knew you always, ALWAYS give the other agents considering your work a chance to make a competing offer.) She ended up signing with this agent, and I couldn’t have been happier for her. Honestly. But I probably wouldn’t have been human if I hadn’t felt that teeny, tiny twinge of jealousy.
I didn’t indulge the twinge, mind you. I didn’t take it out to brunch or feed it bonbons or generally give it the impression that I wanted it to hang around. Instead, I reminded myself that my friend’s journey is not my journey and that just because something wonderful happened to her doesn’t mean the same wonderful thing won’t someday happen to me. And after a while, the twinge of jealousy went away. Now I’m just waiting, waiting, waiting for that someday to arrive:)
Well, that’s it from me. What thoughts have you had lately, querying, writing, or otherwise?