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!