If you’re anything like me, this string of pseudo-words conjures a Tom Petty song, but since you’re probably not, it may just read as someone obsessed with the letter Q. And why qwouldn’t I be? For those who don’t already know, I aspire to be a published author (excuse the redundancy). I’m very heavy on the aspiration, hopeful on the published, and still a mere writer until that fateful day arrives.
Read: I’m in Query Hell. I’m quite sure of it. Not qidding.
To get traditionally published, querying is the act of reaching out to literary agents (or sometimes, directly to publishers, though not so much) to ask (query) them if they are interested in representing your manuscript. It’s a lot like looking for a real estate agent; you want one whose values, style and track record match what you seek for your house. If you have a million-dollar mansion, you want someone experienced to entice serious buyers and weed out the lookie-loos who merely ogle the decorating. Victorian? You’ll want a historic house expert. Micro-house? You need to look for quirkies. In short, you want a good fit.
Likewise, for my manuscript, I require an agent who 1) represents the genre I write (romance); 2) is somewhat quirky themselves (kooky yet professional); and 3) will not only relate to a slightly off-qilter manuscript but will also be able to sell it to a publisher. In my search for the perfect agent, I’ve utilized many online resources, created a multi-paged, color-coded spreadsheet, and have sussed out those agents I think would be interested. Over 200 of them, in no particular order, all at-the-ready to stab their Rejection Wands deep into my heart and roar with malice when they read the pages I’ve bled over for the past three years.
Ok, maybe that last part is just my Imposter Monster screwing with my head, IDK. Hard to tell. I’ve quibbled with my pillow for weeks on end, my hopes of a decent night’s sleep quashed. Quite the quandary.
In all seriousness, though, I’ve never feared the Submit and Send buttons more. My stomach twists, my coronary arteries bulge, my inner champion cheers, “You can do this! Someone is bound to love your weird-ass manuscript!” while my inner douchebag admonishes, “You suck, nobody wants your crazy-cat-soaked story!” My ulcer, naturally, prefers the second one, so I drown it out with Stuart Smalley affirmations for at least an hour after I click. Shame I don’t like alcohol.
For all the times I ridiculed you, Sir Smalley, I apologize. I get it now. If I listen to any more ramblings of my Inner-Dbag, I’ll lose the courage to press any button at all, which will only extend that long, dark corridor of uncertainty into a perpetual moving walkway of shame and fear.
Which won’t do. So quietly I quiver, a mere month later. Two handfuls of queries sent, the responses ranging from suggestions on how to improve, form rejections, and the ulcer-inducing Phil Collins of Responses, the No Reply At All. It’s the name of the game. Whenever I am summoned to my inbox for a personalized flogging session, I chant, I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me! I consult my spreadsheet, reread my query and pages. I tweak. I lather, rinse and repeat while the soap trail beelines for my eye sockets, whereupon I suffer horrible, searing pain! (oh, wait, I’m not a Gelfling). I tear up, pummel my peepers, scream, babble incoherently, and cower in a remote corner of the shower.
But only until the hot water runs out. Then I stand, ready for round two. Or three. Or thirteen. I’m determined, I will quersevere.