Frustrated by the Querying Process

Comments: 5

As all of you, my faithful followers (all 1 or 2 of you) know, I am not the best query writer in the world. I've struggled with this form for years and still probably don't have it down right. Lately, I've been following the blog entries written by Elana Johnson on the Query Tracker blog site. She's written a book on how to write query letters and market your books and stories, etc., to agents and editors. I think her book is probably very good, she has a better than 30% positive response rate to her query letters, but I can't afford the $18.00 to buy it. Nevertheless, I've gotten a lot of good, detailed information about query writing just from her blog entries.

Using Elana's blogs as a go-by, I think my latest query is pretty good. I've submitted it to three places on the web where I could get some feedback fairly quickly, and think her advice has helped a lot. Many of the feedback comments have been positive, and most of the other feedback have further helped me refine my letter.

Still, I have to laugh. I think I've done everything I can to make my letter as perfect as is humanly possible, and I'm still getting criticism. I think that must be part of human nature, to criticize. One writer, whom I highly respect, suggested that my letter was too sparse and needed a few details. So, I added just a sprinkle of detail, and another commenter then said he thought it was too much detail, I only need the bare bones. I can't win.

If I were to follow everyone's comments to the letter I'd never get my query letter written. I think I just need to use the version I think best now and see what happens.

However, Heather Dyer wrote on today's Query Tracker blog that it might be good to have a few different versions of the query, send out a few of each every week or two and see which version garners the most responses. I think I might try that.

So, last night I resumed the querying process. But found I now have another problem. I've about used up all the agents that represent young adult novels. I went to the Agent Query website and had difficulty finding someone I hadn't already submitted my novel to. So, what do I do now?

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About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Wednesday, September 16, 2009

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  1. Start subbing that book to editors and begin your next book.


  2. Thanks Coll. My next book is already in the works. It's titled GIRTA! (exclamation point is part of the title).

    As for sending to editors, I suppose that could work, but the best ones are not approachable except by agents.

  3. (Did you spell Gerta wrong?)

    But back to your query about queries, I asked J.A. Konrath awhile back about whether all his 500 rejections were from different people, and he said, no. The agent who finally accepted him did so on the third request. Granted, I think it was for three different books, but they see so many queries through the months I don't think they'll remember a name they've rejected before, at least not all that easily.

    So my advice: hit'em up again.

  4. I'm sorry. I should have been more positive in my assertion at the beginning of the last comment. Should have said:

    Did you change the spelling of Gerta?


  5. No, you were right the first time. It was a typo. Her name is still GERTA!

    And thanks for the words of support. They really do help.