Friday, March 15, 2013

A New Outlook on Querying

When I was a freelance parenting journalist, My livelihood came down to one tool: query letters. I considered myself an expert. Why? In seven years I landed every assignment I queried. So when I started querying Anathema in 2010, I thought querying would be a piece of cake.

When the rejections started pouring in, I was stunned. I didn't expect every agent to want to rep me, but I did expect far more partial and full requests than I got. I ended up with an offer of representation - but it was too late. I'd already decided to self-publish. You'd think with all the rejection I'd endured, I would have liked turning her down. I didn't. It was scary as s£|!. But I knew I was taking the right path. I have loved every excruciating, horrendous, soul-sucking moment of self-publishing. Hey, no one ever said it would be easy.

Yet here I am, preparing to query again. I have this YA contemporary I wrote. It took me four years to finish it. No, I wasn't working on it that whole time, but it was one of those books I kept revisiting. It wouldn't let me move on.

Self-publishing isn't my juvenile way of giving New York the finger. It was the best path for the books I'd written (and thousands of ebooks purchased supports that theory). But this contemporary isn't the type of book that does well in ePub. The audience isn't teens and their moms. It's just teens. And I'll tell you, there aren't that many teens who read more ebooks than paper books. They are still discovering through their parents, libraries, and friends. This is the audience for my book and I need to do my best to reach them.

More proof self-publishing isn't about me - its about reaching my readers the best way I know how.

So here I am, entering a time warp, preparing to query again. This time, things are different. I don't expect every agent to request a partial or full. I hope they will, but I don't expect it. Truth be told, I don't expect an agent to take me on at all. It's not a lack of confidence, it's understanding the realities of the quickly shrinking publishing world combined with the lust for an immediate blockbuster. These are factors I can't control. All I can do is throw Tabitha and her story out there. Maybe it'll get some bites.

If it doesn't, I'll self-publish it. Not as a consolation prize. I'm only querying eight agents - chances aren't good I'll succeed. For me, it's about going with the best or taking my book directly to the readers. It has nothing to do with giving up. I could query hundreds of agents if settling was my goal. It's not. Writers have so many options these days. I'm simply pursuing the best options for this book.

And as a side note, my next fantasy will be self-published. I have no plans, at this moment, to ever query fantasy again.


  1. Thanks for this view on querying. My novel is almost ready to go out in the world and I'm trying to find the best path or it.

    1. Coreena,

      It's not an easy decision. My advice? Gather all the information you can. Talk to people who are self-pubbed and people who are trad pubbed. Get all sides of the story. Study the bestseller lists and see if your book fits in.

      Good luck!!!!


  2. Haha! I love that... "giving New York the finger".... haven't we all felt that way at times?

    (Pick me, pick me!)

    I've considered self publishing for a long time now, but haven't felt it was the right option for me. Of course, that means I'm still stuck in the world of querying five thousand agents a week, desperately groveling for representation (I'm desperate, i can admit). But despite the set backs, like you, I'm willing to do what's right for the story.

    Which, lets be honest, is what it's all about, right? ( :

  3. Awesomt story Megg! I'm thinking about querying the novel I'm going into second-round redrafting with right now, but after how well St Mall's has done under self-pub I'm not as scared of that idea as I used to be. As you said, I think it depends on the book, and how best to reach the readers with it :)