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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Dark Side of Querying

I know, ominous title, right? But I've been thinking about this a lot and I wish I could hire someone (and maybe pay them with homemade chocolate chip scones) to manage the querying process for me. It's not that I don't like the logistics of it, it's that I like it too much. I like logging in to Query Tracker, checking out agents on Literary Rambles. I like going to my online pals, my writing group or the QT forums for answers to my query questions. There's no lack of resources out there. There's also no lack of advice, contests, speed-agent dating and conferences to research. It's fun and it feels like I'm accomplishing something.

I'm good at this business side of being an author. I thrive on it, really. It's similar to the job I get paid for and I like it because it's not subjective and its quantifiable. I can make pie charts to represent my agent outreach. Safe, fun, busywork.

I don't mean to belittle the importance of this author eduction, not at all. But I'm worried that it's taking me away from what I should be doing - writing. I've started a project and it's exciting and hard and intriguing and maddening. So much easier to create a color coded pie chart.

While I'm not giving up on querying BookEnd - I've worked too hard on it to let it moulder in a digital drawer - I need to cut back on the 'education' stuff. It's nearly as bad a distraction as youtube, blogging and baking.

How do you manage querying your last project while concentrating on your current WIP? OR - How do you get your creative mind (rather than your jobsworth mind) back on track?

10 comments:

  1. Well with self-publishing on the rise as a powerful and successful tool, perhaps there will be a day soon when we can dispense of agents altogether and get back to the writing as soon as possible.

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  2. I am about to enter this world. I think I'm going to NEED the new project to keep my mind off my empty inbox. Good luck on querying.

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  3. There is only one side of querying. Dark. :) Maybe you should have people hire you to do it for them. I do the same thing, I pour and pour over agent interviews and the Query Tracker Premium Reports, but I feel like I'm spinning my wheels. I have found that working on a new project makes querying the other one manageable, however, it also might make it too easy to give up...I don't want to jump from project to project always thinking the grass is greener. Good luck!

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  4. I did exactly the same thing when I was querying. Sad to say I didn't manage it as well as I could have (spent way too much time online). What did help, aside from a new project was doing other creative things--drawing, baking, painting, etc. Doing something that's creative without using words gave me a lot of peace and helped jump start my writing again.

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  5. I look at first-time querying as foundation work. In theory, you should spend a lot more time querying your first novel than querying your second (of course, you hope you don't have to query another, but in the event...). This means you will do a lot of how-to research and agent research first time around that you won't need to do again (aside from researching new agents and checking that submission guidelines haven't changed). And the work you do on how to write a query will apply (so I'm told) even after you get a book deal. It seems publishers often want authors to write the cover blurb.

    So, don't feel bad about spending a lot of time finding out how to query and researching agents. But, as others have said, use your WIP to help keep you moving forward. That's what I'm doing, anyway!

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  6. Haven't joined the ranks of those querying yet - I'll come to you for help when I do!

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  7. @jenny - good luck entering the fray! It's daunting, but you'll feel good about getting to the next stage of your journey!
    @sharon - LOL! And that's a really good point (which I haven't gotten to yet) a new project might take up so much of your attention that you give up on the 'old' project. It's a delicate balance.
    @Stephanie - what a great idea! I use 'alt' creativity - painting, baking etc - when I've got writer's block, but it's a great idea to use it at the start of the project. Thanks for the tip!
    @Colin - I know you are right - it's the 'dues' that we all have to pay, and you're right, the education will pay dividends in the future!

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  8. I've been querying a lot lately and I feel ya there. Keep persevering though! Neat blog:)

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  9. @linda - I have the feeling this querying jag will last quite a while with me ;( so when you're ready we can compare notes!
    @mark - thanks. querying is a lonely business. ranting about it in public seems like a good way to get through it!

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