Monday, September 11, 2017

Query Quagmire--On Reading Your Entries

So far, I've read 60 of the 107 queries that graced my submission box last Thursday.  And I'd like to say a few things!

1.  I'm honored that each of you made the decision to submit. It means two things--that you see value in this contest/exercise, and that you trust me.  Neither of these is small, and I don't take that value and trust for granted.  So allow me right now to say THANK YOU to each of you who entered.

2.  There are an awful lot of THOUGHTFUL, SERIOUS writers who sent in their queries.  Some of you hold MFAs or have published short stories.  Others of you are stay-at-home moms (or dads!) or graduate students or are working full time outside of the writing world.  Many of you took the time to research Danielle's tastes/what she represents, and most of you (so far) know exactly what you write and where it belongs on bookshelves (this is sort of a big deal).

I'm impressed.  And, again, I feel fortunate that each of you entrusted your queries to me.

3.  Of course, regardless of all this goodness, my "no" pile grew quickly from the beginning.  I know you've all heard a hundred times how agents will read just so much and know right away whether or not they want to read more, and you scratch your collective heads wondering what, exactly, this means.  After having done years of contests here on the blog, I finally get this.  And reading actual query letters has made it even clearer to me.  When you know what you're looking for and you know what you feel "good writing" looks like, the "nos" come quickly.

The "maybes", which everything else falls into during the first pass, are a little trickier.  Once I get through all 107 queries, I will have to go back to my "maybe" list and cull my 5 winners.  I think there's only been one entry so far that I'm pretty sure is going to be a "yes".

It's quite a process.  And I really (really really really really) don't know how agents do this all. The. Time.  (I certainly can see why they save it for last, since taking care of their clients' needs has to come first!)  I'm absolutely certain that I could never be an agent. :)

4.  For the record: I am not "Miss Snark".  (Yep. Lots of queries addressed to Miss Snark.)  I am Authoress.  The story of this blog's title (i.e., why I call myself Miss Snark's first VICTIM) can be found HERE.

Here's where I tell you what you've also heard before:  IT ONLY TAKES ONE YES.  I know you know this, but somehow, it helps to hear it a lot.  Because rejection is hard.  And you can't pursue a career as an author without getting REALLY GOOD at being rejected.

So please bear that in mind when I post the winning entries next week.  And please also know that I will not be able to offer you reasons for my rejection of your entry.  I'm doing my best to choose queries and (especially) first pages that are strong, and that Danielle will find appealing.  If yours isn't one of them, KEEP QUERYING WIDELY.

(Also, if Danielle is on your to-be-queried list, please do still send your query to her if yours isn't chosen for Query Quagmire.  While I do have a good idea of her tastes and what she's looking for, I'm certainly not going to get it 100 percent right.  So don't cross her off--she's an amazing agent and you deserve a chance for her to see your work.)

Again, THANK YOU FOR ENTERING!  I feel so connected to each one of you as I read your entries.  We are all of us, as always, in this journey together.

Onward we go!


  1. Oh yikes. Somehow I didn't connect the dots - didn't realize the agent you're choosing for was Danielle! I addressed mine to Fabulous Agent ala Secret Agent.
    Argh. Apologies. Did not mean to come across like a nincompoop!!!

    1. And thank you for the contest, Authoress! I appreciate your presence in authorland and all the work you do - including taking on this contest slush pile.

    2. LOL No worries! The entries all come to me, not Danielle. Trust me when I say I've gotten ALL SORTS of interesting salutations! :)

  2. I missed her name somehow too. Danielle Smith? Danielle Burby?

  3. Nevermind. I found it. Keywords didn't come up on my phone.

  4. I saw this contest as an opportunity to write my query in my own voice. So I set the version aside that I had asked everyone I knew to critique and wrote it all over again, from scratch. I so completely enjoyed the freedom of describing my story the way I envision it! Thank you, Authoress, for such a lovely exercise in expression. ~M

    1. I LOVE knowing this! I'm so glad to have (unwittingly) afforded you this opportunity. And you're welcome!