Facing the Challenge of the Agent Query

Keep calm and query on

I worked on my agent query letter yesterday.

I am finding it truly difficult. It’s not just the logistics of paring my novel-in-stories down to 100-200 words that give enough info to pique an agent’s interest but without giving everything away—though that is challenging.

It’s also the idea that I am committing to sending these 60,000 words out into the world. Once they are out there I have no control over how people react or respond. That’s a little ( okay…a lot) unnerving.

There’s also this other piece of the puzzle that dawned on me yesterday. I don’t like asking for things. The query letter is all about asking an agent to take time out of their already hectic schedule to read my book. I am asking them to help me get it published.

I understand it’s their business and they are in the market to take on a book they feel passionate about and they have a vested interest in getting it out into the world. But it still feels like I am asking for a favor.

So, instead of letting all that stop me like it has before, here’s what I did:

I felt all the feelings: nervous, scared, excited, vulnerable with a little bit of guilt and dread thrown in.

I breathed through it all (thank you yoga).

And I revised my letter. I read other successful query letters and decided what fit best for my voice and the voice of my story and I just did it. It’s still not quite right but it is getting there.

I’ll let it sit for another day and read it again with fresh eyes. Meanwhile, there’s this YA novel that I am about 40K words into…

 

Image via Pinterest

The Numbers Game

Image

Ever since I started writing for elephant journal almost 4 months ago, I’ve been waiting for one of my pieces to reach the magic number that would catapult it into the Popular Lately category. I’d compulsively refresh the page throughout the day to see how many views each article had, eventually seeing the numbers stagnate shy of that magic number.

Then it happened. Yesterday this piece seemed to really connect with people and I saw the numbers steadily climb and I was so excited and then, there it was, on the front page under “Popular Lately.”

I’d done it.

Yay!

Then what happened?

Well, first this: I saw other articles which higher numbers. Much higher numbers. And that bummed me out. And made me question myself. Even though I had just accomplished the goal I had set for myself. I didn’t even give myself time ( a mere minute) to enjoy that accomplishment before longing for higher numbers. More, more, more.

So, there was that.

Then what happened?

Well, nothing.

It was cool, for sure. I was honored and grateful that my piece had resonated with so many people. I mean, that’s why I write, right? To connect. To have my words move even one person.

But, as I’d found myself checking the numbers over and over I wondered if that was true. Did I really only care if only one person was affected. My actions seemed to go against that premise. My actions seemed to suggest something slightly less altruistic: the more the better.

That got me thinking. What did more views really mean to me? The more views, the more poplar I was? The more views, the more liked I was? The more views, the better of a writer I was?

Then I started thinking about all the ways we measure our success on-line: Facebook likes and shares and comments. Blog subscribers and comments. Twitter favorites and retweets. Pinterest likes and repins.

It’s like we are reducing our society to the social dynamics of  junior high all over again.

I don’t know about you, but I hated junior high.

So….what does this all mean?

I’m trying to build a writer’s platform so I need to be part of the social media scene—a scene I actually enjoy. I enjoy connecting with people beyond my own small circle, connecting with other creative people all trying to share their words and stories. I enjoy being part of this on-line tribe of creatives.

I guess what this all means is that I need to stay mindful as I continue to put my work out there. Do my work, put it out there, help it make its way into the world then put my head down and work some more.

My hope is to have a book published and there are so many ways to measure a book’s success that I can’t let myself get caught up in the numbers game.

Sure, numbers mean something but they can’t mean everything.