The Querying Process for Delinquents

There’s nothing more painful than waiting for agents to email you back. It’s like asking someone to the prom and the response is: “Hey douchebag, I’ll get back to you in a month . . . if I feel like it. In the meantime, don’t buy a dress.”

I’ve been spending too much time kicking myself that I no longer kept in touch with any of my publishing pals in my wayward years, lamenting the fact that I used to read slush and held the power to slam my gavel while eating free pizza. I know I said I’ll only post if I had something worthwhile, but that’s like waiting for SNL to get good again, or understanding any of the humor in Anchorman 2. So, I’ll write a list of good distractions for other writers out there like me, waiting for their Sally Field moment.

1. Blog. As you can see I’ve spruced this badboy up just a bit and wasted exactly two hours. I really liked the old pinnacle, but it was extremely phallic, and I got lazy about changing things up, because whenever I go to Dashboard to tinker with WordPress, I have flashbacks to failing tech and I’m afraid I’ll erase the whole damn thing. Why my feet felt more appropriate is beyond me, but it does remind me to start scheduling more pedicures in the New Year.

2. Breaking Bad. I started watching a month ago and didn’t leave my house until I looked like an extra in it. Yo. It’s that additive.

3. Read. I’ve been a reading machine. But reading can create animosity. The critical eye can be a total killjoy. Note to self: stay away from all celebrity books or you’ll go full OJ Simpson on the poor bookstore clerks.

4. Get a puppy. Needy. Distracting. They’re like a newborn. You’ll lose contact with the entire outside world, find yourself in a supermarket at 2 am in your PJs buying chow, staring at US Weekly in the checkout line, wondering who the hell those 10-year-olds on the cover are. And when did that chick from Hannah Montana go off the meds that kept her herpes-colored tongue in her mouth and her devil horns in her skull?

5. Query just before the holidays, then spend 6 weeks of festive debauchery, hangovers, mall brawls, tinsel hanging, family gatherings where you wonder how you’re related and the cruelty of it all. Then if the agents never get back to you, blame the holidays.

6. Travel. I got yanked around to four different houses and places until I woke up and thought I was Cher from the 70s. From my cowboy side in the middle of cattle country, to my husband’s more refined New York side, in the span of one week:

From this (Phx Sunset):

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To this (GW Bridge, view of NYC):

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From Hayden working on the ranch:

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To Hayden snow blowing:

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7. And lastly, the only really useful tip: start writing a new book.

Happy New Year!

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15 thoughts on “The Querying Process for Delinquents

  1. Waiting for agents/publishers to respond can be nerve racking. Without going into a lot of boring detail, I do have the t-shirt. And, you are right; the only thing to do while waiting is to start the next project. Following your process, whatever it may be, is not only time productive – it fills time that would otherwise be spent obsessing.

    I make the assumption you write fiction. I wish you all of the best and hope you will keep us, or me, informed.

    Happy 2014. May iit bring you a publisher soon.

    Phil

    1. Hi, Phil, and thanks! Yes, I write only fiction — when writing lies are not frowned upon. I’m jet-lagged, so maybe I’m missing something… What t-shirt do you have?

      Cheers and happy 2014 to you!

  2. Waiting to hear from agents and collecting rejection slips until you find that one person who is willing to represent you. In your case, it might be publishers, but the t-shirts may well be the same.

    1. Honestly, I’m afraid of what it would take to self-promote. Thought I’d try the traditional route first (not that there’s a fair amount of self-promoting needed here as well…).

      Are you self-published? You have a long-running and successful (and very, very funny) blog, so I can see it working for you. Alas, just check out my archives to see how inconsistent I can be… Ah, I sense the arrival of a New Year’s resolution… Wait…it just passed. 😉

      1. Yes. I self-published a memoir and just finished the 1st draft of my first novel (doing the first edits now). I’ll self-publish that as well. I researched both avenues (traditional and self publishing). Like you, the part I wanted to avoid was the self-promotion.

        When I discovered that traditional publishing now requires that I also do most of my own promoting, I decided that I would go with self-publishing. It gives me more freedom, more of the profits, and I don’t have to wait for rejections.

        Self-publishing is gaining credibility in today’s market. To do it right, you have to spend some money on a really good editor, and book cover designer. If you go with Amazon e-books and soft-cover print-on-demand books via CreateSpace, the process of converting your word-processed manuscript to their format is easy. If I did it (with pictures!) anyone can. Plus you get 70% of the royalties.

        There are tons of blogs and books about self-publishing.

        One more thing that I didn’t do with my memoir as a newbie author was to get reviews before publishing it. Be sure to do that if you haven’t already.

        Hope this helps! Good luck either way you choose!

        And thanks for the every kind words about my zany little blog! 🙂

      2. Wow! Thank you for this wealth of information. I really appreciate it.

        I will definitely consider this option. Probably more so every day…

        Best of luck with your second book!

      3. Thanks so much. I’ll need it!

        And use me as a resource whenever you like. If you go the self-publishing route (or even if you don’t and need some publicity, I do the occasional (and zany) blog interview. It might get you some readers.

  3. Hi S :), firstly Happy New Year and have to say I love the new look header…stepping out into a new direction…putting your best foot forward, putting your foot down, bold new strides…take your pick of any of the analogies :). I don’t know the first thing about publishing, so I can’t comment on that, however I can say, its a very good idea to keep yourself focussed on ANYTHING other than the waiting and the stress it creates. As always I truly wish you the best that you could wish for yourself and beyond!! -C

    1. Thanks, C. Happy New Year to you! Lot’s of analogies with that header, indeed. Oddly enough, those boots are my father’s. Very strange how metaphors just seep into life. Thanks for your well wishes. I wish you all the same!! -S

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