If there is one process, that has the ability to rip out your heart and soul, and proceed to repeatedly stomp all over it, time and time again, it would have to be querying your manuscript, in the quest to find a literary agent.
I went through this process with my book titled ‘Making March’. I keep asking myself, do I want to go through it again with my next novel? This is the question many authors ask themselves, once they complete a manuscript. Do I query first, or do I go straight to self-publishing my book?
If being traditionally published is something you want, then query, but be prepared for an emotional roller coaster ride. Querying can be soul crushing, and leave you with a terrible case of ‘imposter syndrome’. It can leave you doubting your ability as a writer, and asking yourself, ‘am I good enough?’
Querying is often referred to in writing circles as ‘being in the trenches’, and this is exactly how it can feel at times. You begin your mission at the bottom of that deep trench, and in order to get what you desire, you need to claw your way out.
You might start to make some traction when you receive a partial request. You find a foot hold, and climb a couple of feet, and there, you will wait, and wait, and wait, holding on for dear life.
Finally you get a response, and it’s a thanks, but no thanks. You lose your footing and slide right down to the bottom of that muddy hole once again. The only thing keeping your spirits up is your desire to succeed and your fellow authors who are right there alongside you in that trench, cheering you on. The comradery and support from your fellow soldiers is what keeps you going.
After months and months of gaining a few feet, only to fall back down, the cavalry finally arrives. You received a full manuscript request. Suddenly you muster up the energy to climb to the top. Peering over the edge, you can see it now, off in the distance. A contract with the right literary agent. It's so close, you can almost reach out and touch it.
You remain there for weeks, maybe months, once again holding on for dear life, hoping that this time, you will make it out of that retched trench. Suddenly a bullet comes flying towards you, and hits you square in the guts, sending you slowly sliding right back to the bottom once again. Your full request ended in a rejection. You are now wounded, lying in pain at the bottom of that blasted trench. It seems the cavalry had come for someone else after all.
Just when you feel like giving up, a fellow soldier holds out their hand, helping you back up on to your weary feet. They help patch up your wound, and encourage you to keep going. They can’t tell you whether or not to keep querying, or self-publish, but they will be right beside you, to cheer you on regardless.
This piece may make it sound like it’s all doom and gloom, but it’s not. It’s the emotional struggle of querying that can make a writer feel like giving up. It is timing and luck, that’s all. Of course, you have to have written a good book, but querying the right agent at the right time is key. I’m hoping that one day, I will get that timing right.
Will I query my novel ‘Scattered Scones’ when it’s ready? Yes I will. I will continue to work towards my goal of being traditionally published, but in the meantime, I will enjoy getting my work out there to my readers, while engaging with the wonderful and supportive writing community.