Behind the Scenes Sunday

Surviving Querying – Tips & Tricks

Let’s take a peek at the cogs inside the machine and talk about why I write and how I write on Behind the Scenes Sunday! Today I’d like to talk a little bit about pitching and querying — specifically how to survive the process with your sanity and self-esteem (mostly) intact.

Querying/pitching is the way to get your work from a file on your computer (or scribblings in your journal, if you’re real old school) to published piece, especially if you are trying to make the leap to novelist. Whether your querying literary agents or pitching small presses direct, the process can be grueling, unforgiving, and toxic to your sense of self.

Nobody likes to hear no. Nobody likes to hear that their work isn’t “enough” or “right” or “a good fit”. But when you’re querying/pitching you will hear it all the time. Sometimes for years.

So what do you do? How do you keep from going crazy, from calling it quits, from completely losing faith in yourself and your work?

Here are some tricks that I’ve used during my time in the trenches to keep myself strong and in fighting form. Hopefully some will work for you.

  1. YOU ARE NOT YOUR WORK. Repeat it. Write it above your work space. Learn it by heart. You are not your work. When an agent says your first ten pages didn’t draw them in, they’re not saying that you are a terrible writer and you are doomed to fail. They’re saying the work didn’t grab them. That’s it.
  2. BE OPEN WITH YOUR SUCCESSES (AND WITH YOUR LACK OF SUCCESSES). Celebrate when things go right! And be just as open with your friends and family when things don’t go your way. Rejection makes us want to turn inward. Don’t. Reach out to your support network.
  3. LET YOURSELF GRIEVE. Rejection sucks. Don’t pretend it doesn’t, or feel like you should have “tougher skin”. It’s okay to feel sad when that dream publisher passes on your book. It’s not okay to rip up your manuscript and swear never to write again (looking at you, Robin).
  4. GRATITUDE AND LOVE. You love to write, don’t you? Take some time away from the trenches to remind yourself of why. You don’t write to get published. You don’t write to get famous. I don’t know why you write — we all have our reason. But stay in touch with yours and hold it close. Remember how lucky you are that you have found this passion in your life.
  5. TAKE A BREAK. That’s right. Have you been querying for a year with a slew of ‘no thank you’s’ under your belt? Take a break. TAKE A BREAK. There’s no prize for finishing first in this race. Walk away, take some time — your book will wait for you. The right agent will wait for you. The right publisher will wait for you. Take a break.

Do you have any tips and tricks for surviving querying/pitching? What has worked for you? Let’s start building a network of support in the comments, this is the perfect time!

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Published by rsjeffrey

Robin Jeffrey was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming to a psychologist and a librarian, giving her a love of literature and a consuming interest in the inner workings of people’s minds.

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