What I’ve Learned About Queries

We all know that querying sucks. It’s hard to be rejected, hard to put yourself out there when you’ve been shot down so many times before.

But here’s the thing: sometimes when you get the polite, “Thank you, but it’s not the right fit,” all they’re really saying is, “It’s not the right fit.”

Now I’m assuming here that you’ve written a killer query and had it vetted by several people. I’m also assuming that you have written, revised, let it sit, and then rewritten and revised some more. Because if you’ve only written and revised and you’re getting rejections, then by all means, go back and revise again before you send out more queries.

This is for the people who have done that, the people who have done everything in their power to craft the best story they possibly can. I know a LOT of people who are here. I’ve read their books. I know they’re talented writers.

And I’m here to say, truly, sometimes it’s not you. It’s them.

I don’t mean that in an adversarial way. All I’m saying is that there are a whole realm of possibilities out there. The agent you queried may have just signed someone with a similar story. Maybe they’re holding out for a particular kind of story that they know a certain editor is looking for. Maybe they think it’s a great idea, but not something they want to represent. Or maybe they just weren’t feeling it that day.

Who. Knows.

The point is, this part of the process is out of your control. You can’t beat yourself up second guessing the hidden meaning in a rejection. Sometimes it’s not you. It’s them.

Don’t lose hope.

You only need one yes. But you might not get it until after you’ve heard a hundred nos.

Write the best story you can. Write the best query you can. And above all, keep writing. As long as you believe, one day it will pay off.

23 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned About Queries

  1. I've been doing this long enough to realize how true this is. It's just like when everyone gushes about a book and I didn't get what was so great about it. It wasn't the right book for me but it was for others. That understanding makes querying much easier.

  2. I figure it this way, when I've sent the query out to 37 of the top notch agents, and they all come back rejected, I'm done. I'm not going to beat my head on a rock trying to get someone/anyone to like it.

    Besides, there's always the next book. You learn from the no's.

  3. So true, Sherrie! You have no idea what's going on in the agent's mind or why you're getting rejected. I hit 67 queries before I found the “right” agent. I know some who've had over 100 queries before they been agented. Make sure you have the strongest story possible, and then believe in yourself. Great post.

  4. I really do believe this is true. The folks who don't give up end up succeeding. Personally, I think that is because there is such a passion for the writing and genuine desire to get better. That combination of persistence and growth (and of course luck) is what makes the magic finally happen.

  5. Great post. I agree, you need a skill, determination, and luck to be published. So if your luck is down, lean on determination and keep writing.

  6. Bravo!!! I LOVE it!! It's sooo true. Patience pays off, and it has to be the right person at the right time. You don't want an agent who isn't 1000% behind you. I know it's hard to hear from someone who is agented, but it's true I promise.

  7. Thanks for the encouragement Sherrie 🙂 I suppose it is time for me to get back on the query cycle.

    It takes a lot of time and energy to find, research, and send to an agent. I know my query and novel is as polished as it can be, now its just nerving for that all out push.

    Intimidating . .


  8. Sherrie, this topic is perfect timing for me.

    This week I've had my critique group help me with my latest version of a query. They gave me wonderful suggestions, and I can see this version being my very best thus far.

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