Querying: The Science of Waiting

It takes days to write, hours to muster up the courage to press “send, and then… well, it takes weeks to receive back a reply. Querying is not something you should rush into. Take your time, because you can bet that agents are sure taking their time to respond. I know it’s infuriating to wait weeks for a simple, “Thanks, but no thanks.” What can we do in those weeks of waiting? We’ve sent queries to our favorite agents, and now what?

1.) Revise your Query

This is a pastime I’ve found gets extremely boring after awhile. There’s only so much work you can do on your query, but just because you’ve sent it off doesn’t mean you can’t make it better for whomever next reads it. It might make all the difference.

2.) Read your own novel

I thought I was done editing, and for the most part-  for all of those tricky structural things- I was. but rereading your novel is a strange experience. Especially if it has hibernated in the catacombs of your computer files for the past few weeks. Suddenly, you’re surprised. I was pleasantly surprised, which may not always be the case. Approaching the work with a fresh eye gives you a real appreciation for what you’ve done. I found myself actually thrilled over some parts of it. Some parts shocked me, some made me laugh at jokes I forgot I made. Although I began receiving back rejection letters, I realized that I can make it. It’s not a lost cause. Secondly, rereading the book one last time helped me fix all the glaring typos. Even after editing a book, typos remain. The human eye just tricks you like that.

3.) Move on

If you’re spending a lot of time for your first project to bloom with success, work on something else. Whether that’s a blog or another novel or some short stories or poetry, it can keep you on your writing game. Think of it this way: in the third grade, once summer hit, who still remembered their times tables? We like to forget all of things we learn when we’re not using them every day. Solution: Use them every day.

4.) Play copious amounts of video games

You don’t have to play video games. You could play ping pong like I’ve been doing or read all day. Or night. The great thing about my predicament is that I’m a student with a part-time job. Without school, I spend whole days doing nothing. It’s relaxing. It’s awesome. I mean, yes, there is work to be done. I’ve been working… I swear… kind of. But if you’ve sent out a lot of queries, don’t think about them every day. The problem with sitting at home all day is that you check your e-mail every five minutes. You wait for the mailman to bring you… well, mostly just magazines.

How do you cope with waiting for agents to respond to queries?

About derekberry

Derek Berry is a novelist, poet, and student located in Charleston, SC.

Posted on June 18, 2011, in Cool Posts, Writing. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. First of all, I love the picture that accompanies this post–kind of says it all.

    I’m in the waiting process for short stories I’ve submitted to trade publications and contests. Since I’m not into video games, I teach my dog tricks, write, and edit-to-death my work. Someone needs to pull the plug on my computer some days.

    You gave voice to many writers’ frustrations and also gave some valuable suggestions. Keep up the great posts!

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