Second Chances: Querying Edition

So I’m nearing the end of the current book I’m working on. I have two major scenes left to write, plus three new chapters I want to go back and incorporate before I let the novel breathe, hopefully returning to edit it around August/September. I went on a writing binge today and was super excited about where this book is going, plus how much progress I’ve been making on it. I’m almost at 60,000 words and think I could end it between 75-80k, which is such a sweet spot for a debut writer. Which got me thinking about returning to the querying trenches, sooner rather than later.

And I’m excited about it.

I know, fellow writers. I’m officially going off the deep end by claiming that I’m excited to query. But here’s why: I’ve learned a lot from my previous experience in the query trenches. And, unfortunately, I made a lot of mistakes. Looking at the first draft I ever wrote of a query–and actually sent out, which makes it ten times worse–makes me cringe. What a disservice that query did to my story and I apologize profusely to any agent who found that in your inbox a couple years ago. There was probably 12 of you.

My query improved as I improved as a writer and the responses to the queries, though still rejections, became more positive in turn. It still isn’t perfect. I also learned, after three separate rounds of querying spread out between three years, some “harsh” lessons that I wish I would have known before I queried, so I might have actually had a chance with some of the amazing agents I queried. One of those things would be realizing my book was actually NA instead of YA. Or perhaps that trying to pitch a 125k novel as a debut writer is more difficult than pitching in general, which is pretty damn hard already. I had more errors than just those, but those two alone set me up where only a miracle alone would have gotten me a partial request, let alone a full.

Realizing all of these mistakes after the fact was a nice wake-up call, reminding me that the work doesn’t end once you’ve written a book and edited it numerous times. Researching agents, knowing how your novel fits into the market and working your ass off crafting a query are all required, amongst other things, before you being querying. And they were all things I didn’t do well enough before. After realizing all this, I was bummed, because I felt like I wasted my chance to work some amazing agents because I was foolish and uninformed, and didn’t do the proper research.

I was wrong on that front. I only wasted my opportunity for that book.

This science fiction novel is a new gig. The boards are erased. And if some of those agents that I already queried for fantasy also represent adult science fiction, I can query again. And this time, I know more. I know I need to do more work to prep this round, not only with my novel and my query, but also with the agents themselves, including reading works by their published authors and making sure we’d make a good team before querying them.

So yes, I’m excited to query again because I get a second chance at it. And if someone picks this book up, hopefully they’ll be interested in my previous trilogy, too, despite my mistakes. But before I get all worked up  about querying, I still have a book to finish, edits to suffer through, agents to research and queries to craft. But through it all, this is an exciting time, friends. 🙂

Cheers.

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About Nicole Evans

Nicole Evans is a writer of fantasy and science fiction. She is currently unpublished and is working fervently to get the “un” removed from that statement. She has five completed manuscripts: a trilogy about destined heroes that fail anyway, a science fiction standalone that pits the natural desire to love against the natural instinct to kill during the extinction of the human race and a new series about a writer who can't get published and gets the chance to live a life that all writers dream. She also has two scripts done. Currently, she is about to start writing the second of a nine book series while planning two more. (If you can tell, she really likes this whole writing thing.) Considering she has run out of space for putting rejections letters up on her wall, Nicole now uses her spare time doing the typical things that nerds do: blogging, dying repeatedly during video games (which she believes is retribution for the characters’ she’s killed), wishing she was the character she is currently reading about and trying to fight off the real world by living in her own head, with varying degrees of success. Nicole has a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Film and Media Studies, and works part-time as a supervisor in a library at the University of Kansas. View all posts by Nicole Evans

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