Discovery: Queries Are Like Ex-Boyfriends

You may be reading this post with a raised eyebrow, based on the title.  It’s possible that you’ve drawn the conclusion that something’s wrong with me.  I won’t argue with that; I’ve got a whole blog full of posts to support that idea. 

By the time you finish reading this, I’m fairly certain you will have decided that I’m one of two things:  (1) crazy enough that I should be institutionalized without so much as a weekend pass (and my internet access should be discontinued at once); or (2) quirky and creative – in need of mental help, but stable enough to blog without being a danger to myself or others.

Last night, I came to the realization that querying literary agents is the emotional equivalent to dating.  It’s been a long time since I dated, but if I remember correctly, I hated it. 

When preparing for a date, I stressed about what to wear, whether or not I would say something stupid, and what to do with the blemish surfacing on my chin.  When querying, I worry about getting the name on the query correct, whether or not my email will mysteriously add strange line breaks and spaces, and of course, if I will have typos or write something stupid.  (I don’t care so much about blemishes anymore.)

After the first date, if I liked the guy, I’d be all anxious waiting for him to call me.  If I didn’t like him, a sense of dread came over me whenever the phone rang because I was an idiot and gave him my real phone number.  (Note:  this was before caller ID became commonplace.  Hehehe, told you it’s been awhile :))  When I query, every time I open my email account and see unopened messages, my heart beats faster and I can’t get to my inbox fast enough.  I just have to know if the literary agent liked me.

As a dating relationship progressed, I attempted to keep up, but got bogged down with the failures of past relationships (a.k.a. excess baggage).  For instance, if the guy didn’t call me back after the first date, or didn’t return my calls, then I convinced myself he was a jerk anyway and I was too good for him. The relationship was over – I was free to move on.  After I send out a query, to protect my fragile psyche, I write it off as another rejection (the breakup).  This way, I don’t feel like I just got dumped when the rejection comes back to me; I can see it as more of a mutual parting of ways.  (I know, that’s seriously messed up, but it’s my coping mechanism.  Well, that and chocolate, of course). 

In a good week, I’ll send out a couple queries; it’s all I have the time and emotional strength for.  I recently received a response back that caught me by surprise.  I scanned it for the words “merit,” “subjective,” “unfortunately,” and “luck” – all popular words for the agent skilled in letting aspiring authors down easy.  I didn’t see any of these words, so I looked closer.  It read:  “I’m happy to take a look.  Send it to me.”

“Huh?”  I blinked a few times and read it again.  Yep, that is what it said.  (In the dating world, this would mean my ex just asked me to get back together with him).  So, do I remember the reasons we broke up in the first place (let fear hold me back)?   Or do I follow my heart and reply (and chance another painful rejection)?

Oh yeah, count me in!  I didn’t have to ponder; I hit reply and sent the manuscript.  I did it, even though I know the odds are high that my heart will get broken.  With God’s grace and some luck, maybe I’ll find my literary agent match.  I hope so; I really don’t want to become an old maid of the query pool.  I think it’s worse than dating. 

What are your thoughts on queries?  Feel free to share your best or worst query experience!


21 thoughts on “Discovery: Queries Are Like Ex-Boyfriends

  1. Barb September 20, 2010 / 3:05 AM

    Wow, I love this post! I haven’t started querying yet, and I stopped dating almost at the same time as you, but I think querying IS like dating. So I’m wondering if I’m too old to play that game! 😉
    I think my fantasy is marketable enough, therefore I’ll probably self-publish, but I’ll write something more marketable and query agents and publishers in the coming years (I’m a fast writer, but I do need time to write down that historical novel, let it rest, edit it, send it to beta-readers, edit again and start querying. Might happen at the end of next year)! 🙂

    • jannatwrites September 20, 2010 / 9:02 PM

      You are a fast writer! I say, as long as you can still type, you are definitely not too old for the query market:) Go for it!

      Good luck on marketing your fantasy novel.

      • Barb September 20, 2010 / 10:37 PM

        and I forgot… congrats for the request! It will be The One! Yay! Cheering for you! 😀

        • jannatwrites September 20, 2010 / 11:39 PM

          Thanks, Barb. The half of me that’s expecting a Rejection keeps the other part of me (the dreamer) firmly planted on the ground 😉

  2. Brown Eyed Mystic September 20, 2010 / 5:33 AM

    Oh My God!

    Janna!! You got a request! Congrats 😉

    I am soo happy for you. And come’on, among these agents is the one meant for you too! Really.

    I wish you great luck. Keep us updated, ok?



    • jannatwrites September 20, 2010 / 9:09 PM

      Thanks for the well-wishes! I’m not getting too excited yet because this agent has requested a lot of manuscripts. I should know in a few weeks. If it doesn’t go well, you’ll probably read a depressing blog post from me.

  3. chlost September 20, 2010 / 6:28 AM

    YAY! Congratulations!!! No matter what, this is a big step. There can only be more good things to come, whether with this person or another. You got your first… a first date, or the first time…you know….you are now in a new club!
    Keep us posted. My fingers and toes are crossed for you.

    • jannatwrites September 20, 2010 / 9:14 PM

      Thanks for crossing your fingers and toes – I hope it helps. I’m glad to join this new club, but I’m trying to prepare for disappointment so I don’t fall as far 🙂

  4. darksculptures September 20, 2010 / 12:43 PM

    Woot! Woot! Woot! That is fantastic news!

    Your post was awesome and pulled me right in. Very clever. I busted out laughing when yI read, “I know, that’s seriously messed up, but it’s my coping mechanism. …” If it weren’t for distorted coping mechanisms I wouldn’t have any at all. 😉

    Good luck. I hope you have found your match!

    • jannatwrites September 20, 2010 / 9:18 PM

      I’m glad you liked the post. Let’s hear it for distorted coping mechanisms; they’re warped. but they get us through nonetheless!

      Thanks for the support; I’ll certainly keep everyone posted on any progress (or lack thereof).

  5. Miss Rosemary September 20, 2010 / 1:36 PM


    • jannatwrites September 20, 2010 / 9:21 PM

      Thanks, Miss Rosemary…I’m glad you liked it! I didn’t know if this post would be too off-the-wall, but I guess it wasn’t 🙂

  6. 2blu2btru September 21, 2010 / 6:35 AM

    Writing & presenting anything for review is nerve racking–just like a first date, possibly as bad as a blind date. You put your best foot forward & hope it doesn’t get ridicule or stepped on. You have a level of expectation that may not be met by reality–and so does the other person. Hopefully it works out on both ends for you! Right now in my writing as dating analogy, I’ve taken my shower and am trying to decide what to wear, lol! At least you are out the door! Good luck! 😀

    • jannatwrites September 21, 2010 / 7:17 AM

      I may be out the door, but now I’m wondering if I chose the most flattering outfit to wear!

      I do agree about the blind date part; I only went on one of those and it was a disaster. I hope querying ends up better than that 🙂

      Good luck choosing your outfit and finding YOUR match!

  7. Cities of the Mind September 21, 2010 / 9:51 AM

    Best of luck! Much like dating, failing more often than you succeed is a part of journey. You’re bound to succeed sooner or later!

    • jannatwrites September 21, 2010 / 10:21 AM

      Thanks, Cities! I like that point of view. After working through the failures, once success is found, it’s even more special. Cool…

  8. Charlene Ang September 21, 2010 / 11:18 AM

    I love your post. It’s interesting, witty, and I didn’t feel the usual urge to close the browser or skip to the next blog. I just kept reading all the way till the very end.

    Congratulations on your query success and I hope it all turns out well!

    P.S. I think you meant: I recently received a response back that caught ME by surprise.
    Hehe, I just have a thing for typos:

    • jannatwrites September 21, 2010 / 4:35 PM

      Thanks for the huge compliment, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I’ve also fixed the typo; I try to catch them, but sometimes they slip by me!

      P.S. I’m curious about your blog, so I’ll check it out tomorrow. So glad you stopped by 🙂

  9. Rissa Watkins September 26, 2010 / 10:51 PM

    Yes! Yes! Yes! Querying is like dating- after you’ve gained 50 pounds, broken out and grown a crazy black moustache over night.

    I have the same coping mechanism- I assume the agent responses are rejections and it did take me a few minutes to psyche myself up to open the one who requested the full.

    We’re in the same boat, so I’ll see you at the Godiva counter? 🙂

    • jannatwrites September 27, 2010 / 8:27 PM

      Ohmigosh! I love the crazy black moustache part. Chocolate is so wonderful; I dedicate my hips to it. Godiva counter? You got it…perhaps we’ve already met there 😉

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