Wednesday, April 27, 2011

WiP Wednesday: The Dark, Confusing Side of Query Land

Querying a novel can be terrifying.

I have dipped my toes into the querying waters over the last couple weeks with my YA novel, Seagull Rising. Just a few agents so far. I'm taking my sweet time.

By moving slowly I'm hoping I can avoid serious blunders.

For example:
With my last book, V-Day, I was often up late sending out six or seven queries at a time. I used the excellent to help me stay organized, but when it's late and you're almost cross-eyed with exhaustion, sometimes you manage to mess up with even the best tools on hand.

Apparently I sent out a query to an agent but forgot to note it. So, a few days later I sent out another query to the same agent.

A couple weeks later I received this reply (paraphrased):

Dear Ms. Sonnichsen,
I have already received a query from you on (date of first query). You have queried me twice.

I did not know what to do. Honestly.

I stared at the email. This was not a rejection. All she was telling me was that I had made a mistake.

I was embarrassed, and also very confused. What should I do now?

Probably a less stupid person would have junked the letter and admitted to herself that this was obviously a hand-slap and that this particular agent was not interested in seeing anything more. Because, if she had been interested, she would have said so, right?

I chose to be more hopeful than smart, and sent her a very nice reply, apologizing profusely for the mistake and asking her to pretty-please-with-sugar-on-it still consider my query.

I never received a reply. Which shouldn't have surprised me.

And, for the record, I will not be querying that agent again, because, despite my error, I thought her response was a lame way to reject someone. (Do you agree/disagree? I'd like to know.)

So, this time I'm moving slowly, trying to send out only my best, and praying for the *right* result, whether that means representation or not.

How about you? Do you have any weird query stories to share in the comments? Or, if you're not in Query Land, any weird interactions lately?


  1. That's a ridiculous way of rejecting someone, on the agent's part -- sheesh. I try to keep track, and will simply let someone know I've already seen something from him/her.

    Good lucks! *grin*

  2. I'm not blogging much these days..packing, packing, packing...that saga is NEVER ending! HA! (and still not sure where we will be moving to) Double HA!
    But, I have been reading your blog when I get the chance and cheering you on from the sidelines! JiaYOU!

  3. Thanks, Weronika! :) I'm glad I'm not crazy thinking that was a weird rejection method.

    Oh, MaDonna, I've been Thinking of you! I knew you must be busy since your blog has been silent. I hope you find a new apartment soon, my friend.


  4. I have a tendency to do things at night because as tired as my brain may be, I'm less scattered than when I have kiddos interrupting me. I'm afraid I would totally do something like that.

    Best of luck, Amy, and if you ever need a reader for something, you know my e-mail. I really loved your short story.

  5. That was a lame way to reject someone. She should have just said that she had already received your query, but unfortunately it wasn't for her. Honestly, how hard can it be?

    Last month I sent out a query to an agent mistakenly telling her that my literary novel was 19,000 words - basically only 5 chapters. When she came back with a rejection, I looked at my query again and realised what I'd written.

    Duh! I decided to send her a quick note explaining the typo, and that my novel was actually 119,000 words, not 19,000. LOL.

    She was really cool, thougn, and requested my full. I'm still waiting to hear back from her. Praying hard :o)

  6. oh for pete's sake. I do not get the byzantine laws of agents and publishers. How about I send a book idea with a few chapters and an outline just so you know I've done it and you say -yes, I'd like to see the whole thing - or nah, not our cuppa tea. Done and dusted. But Nooooooooo! It has to be - 'are you aware that we no longer accept two spaces after a period?' 'it has come to our attention that you don't know how to use an em dash and will have to be eliminated'

  7. I'm like you, taking it slow and easy (maybe too slow), but yes, query-infested waters are a bit scary sometimes.

    And totally weird about that rejection. I don't think I'd re-query either. :)

  8. How exciting, Amy! We're all rooting for you!

    I can't think of any major blunders, per se (unless you count sending out a completely un-ready query ("My name is Krista Van Dolzer...") for a completely un-ready manuscript), but that probably just means I didn't notice them:)

  9. Good luck with the querying.

    Remember, you only need one to love it!

  10. Good luck with the queries, Amy. Slow and methodical is good. I hope you find the right agent soon.

    I hope to be in your shoes before the year is out. We'll see ...

  11. I think the worst I have gotten was nothing. Following the submission guidelines, I sent my entire MS with an SASE and a second, manila envelope with enough postage to return the whole MS in case it wasn't loved. Apparently, it was not since I never heard word one. I even gave it the allotted wait period and sent a status request (again with obligatory SASE). But still .. nada.

  12. Hi, Amy. Glad you're querying again. My strangest query story is where I sent to an agent and about the time I was going to follow-up, I received a notification that this agent had left the business.
    Of my other queries, I think it was great to have received a letter or e-mail of rejection. I hated the "no response by x date" meant a NO. Why can't an agent take the briefest of courtesies to send a 1-line form-letter?

  13. I think that's a good idea to take it slow and be careful. I never know what kind of goofy thing I'm going to do next - after I hit the send button I always freak out and wonder if I did something wrong like forgetting the attachment or something.

  14. Oh, you guys, I have loved all these comments. Thank you! Some of you made me laugh out loud! D.U. - that's cool that you saw your mistake and got a full request out of it. I hope the agent loves it. :)

    One of the reasons I love our community of writers is that the comments are always so fun to read. You are all a witty, intelligent bunch!


  15. My CP's are going to have to push me into the query pool this time. I'm much happier sitting by the side, reading a novel (YA, of course). At least until the temperature warms up. I hate swimming in cold water. (Okay, I'm not sure if I'm still on the querying analogy here). ;)

    Good luck with the queries, Amy!

  16. I guess you could have replied with an email saying you really wanted her to represent you, that's why you queried twice. LOL! DON'T DO THAT THOUGH. I think you did the right thing, and I'd take her off my list too.

  17. Wow. That seems hard coming from an agent. I mean, everyone makes mistakes, even agents.
    I've made a few boneheaded mistakes in querying. I feel like it happens to all of us and we should be forgiving of our painful tendencies to be human. Great blog!