“Did the rabbit die?”

The Thinking Read

Greetings from the querying trench. Pull up a box, it’s time to see how things are going.

In short. They aren’t.

Piffle. So, it’s time to disassemble this beastie and see what’s amissin’.

The Totals as of November 24, 2022, leaving out the poetry, also not consigning the one possible silent rejection entirely to the ‘NO’ pile yet, that leaves:

I’ll tell ya, even I am not impressed.

Looking at those numbers I have to remind myself of several facts in rapid succession to stave off the internal rising tide of self-recrimination. Ah, there it is, right on cue, the frantic drumbeat of ‘Not Enough’. It’s a lousy beat and you can’t dance to it.

Back to being serious.

No, this is not where I hoped I would be at approximately 50 days into my efforts.

I had no illusions that I would be sitting on a pile of offers by now. Which, considering my sometimes fleeting relationship with reality, is pretty good for me. Sane goals, realistic expectations. Well, that’s a refreshing change.

Yet still there is the relentless echo of ‘Not Enough’ filling the voids in my memory.

Whoa! Hold up. Gotta change gear. I was starting to drift into a complex PTSD essay.

Back on track.

assortment of pastel gummy candies
Photo by Karen Laårk Boshoff on Pexels.com

In all truth, I didn’t expect to be a unicorn. Great, I have my feet firmly planted on the ground. That’s a good start.

Taking a moment to consider the lack of stunning numbers of queries out and the lag in agent research there does appear to be good reasons to explain the failure to meet established production projections.

To wit, I will restate, cats are assholes. The application of 15lb of fluff at mach-1 certainly caused distress, but the contribution of the aforementioned unapologetic minion of evil were minor in light of other extenuating circumstances.

In short, I have been flat on my back for extended periods of time since August. There are a few posts roaming around if you want to read about pain, misery and the state of health care in my little one-horse town.

And, I do believe, all the time I spent staring at the ceiling isn’t the real cause of the poor showing.

To what do I attribute the apparent lack of success? Timing.

Let’s recall the initial parameters for the querying process.

Earlier this year I saw and was suitably impressed with a strategy put forward by Alexa Donne in her video The Best Way to Query Your Book: Successful Query Strategy.

In summary, the approach she recommended was the use of “test batches” to assess the efficacy of your querying materials. She proposes a small group of agents which have consistently demonstrated quick turn around times on queries to serve as the first group in your querying process.

cute brown hare standing on green meadow
Photo by Steffi Wacker on Pexels.com

In theory, these speedy agents, which Ms. Donne identifies as “very fast responders”, would receive your query and give you an answer quickly. I have to admit, I think of this category as the hares. Based on Ms. Donne’s video I determined I would look for agents consistently responding within 1-2 weeks.

The Seven Steps to Success
(and now I have ‘The Ten Duel Commandments’ from ‘Hamilton’ going through my head.) (Oi.)

  1. Finish your manuscript.
  2. Edit and Obsess until said manuscript is the best you can reasonably make it without hanging it about your neck like an albatross.
  3. Research Agents to find some potential matches for your work. Then do more. (A note from my own experience, don’t skimp on this step.)
  4. Identify Agents you think will
    • be interested in your work
    • open to queries
    • someone you think you could work with
    • consistently prompt in their replies
  5. Read Their Submission Requirements. Do it again. Then assemble the materials they request, format said materials to their specifications. Polish your query letter, tailor your letter for this agent.
  6. Submit Your Query, via e-mail or on-line form.
  7. Wait.

And this is where my test batch(es) appear(s) to have gone pear shaped.

I assembled, I checked, I researched, I checked again, I formatted, polished, and tweaked. Satisfied I had created my best effort I hit submit with that unique cocktail of apprehension and hope every writer knows all too well.

assorted silver colored pocket watch lot selective focus photo
Photo by Giallo on Pexels.com

And I waited. And waited. And… you get the picture I’m sure.

Now here we are 30-50 days later and I’m still waiting to hear back from my initial test batch.

It looks like all my bunnies died.
(Does anyone get that reference? *Crickets. Fine, moving on.)

So, like any good scientist, when the mortality of your research subjects nears 100% you reach for the N-95 and back away slowly. But, in this case, I didn’t have the luxury of handing the necropsy off to someone else.

Investigation time. What was the problem?

I studied the available timelines on Query Tracker, poured through the agents talking on #MSWL, sifted through agent announcements and a few emails I had received I can reasonably determine that my poor ‘bunny’ designated queries aren’t dead, merely stunned*. Or possibly trapped in Purgatory. But let’s be positive and say merely waiting in a queue**.

Further study of the timelines and the sheer volume of queries makes the possibility that they are waiting in an inbox quite likely.

So, what do I do? Wait? Nudge?
That is exactly what I am trying to figure out.

My last thought on the subject is this –
I suspect a fair number of agents will use some of the coming holiday season to wade through the ocean of queries.

Thank you all.

My hope is this – that not all the responses to my queries arrive at the same time, and, please, if they weren’t all rejections that would be a lovely holiday gift.

* I never thought I would ever apply my skills for studying the SIGINT of the Soviet Union to metaphorical bunnies. Life is weird.

** I’ll be breaking down how I have used the Query Tracker timeline feature in another post.


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