Adventures in Queryland #1
They say, 'There's no bad time to query. If an agent is open (and your manuscript matches their wishlist), send them away!' I truly believe anyone who has ever said those words has never sent out a query. Or queried during a global pandemic.
As 2020 is behind us, thank goodness, there is a bad time to query. 2020.
Obviously, this is just my experience, and if you queried during 2020 and got an agent, you don't have to brag thanks.
This might be a story for a different blog post, but 2019 wasn't a good year for me. Like at all. I had a pretty disappointing experience in publishing and wasn't feeling too great about writing. It was a year of waiting for something that would never come. I spent the year working on craft, writing new stuff, and revising. Towards the end of the year and with my writing friends' support, I was convinced '2020's my year!' *fist pump*
January rolled in, and I finished up revisions for my manuscript. Since 2020 was going to be my year, I decided to try pitch events on Twitter. I did my research on pitching, what to do, what not to do, all that good stuff and wrote my first pitches in February. I was pretty excited because it was my first time participating, and I'd heard people found their agents that way. Things were looking good. Except. I still wanted to read through my manuscript one last time just because (do you ever just 'need to read it one last time all the time?') and I still needed to write my query letter and synopsis and do more research on literary agents. I still had stuff to do. I wasn't done yet. But almost.
The first week in March was full of hope because I'd finally gotten rid of that annoying voice in my head that consistently told me, 'Who cares you wrote a book? No one wants to read this! There's already like a zillion books about princesses and the chosen one, and...and Didn't you hear fantasy is dead? No one wants a Latinx princess book. You are wasting your time just look at what happened last year.'
Yes, those words exactly.
I did my first pitch event. I think it was Pitmad or DVpit (I can't remember which one happened in March), but it was fun!! So much fun!! I was nervous but excited! I'll write a post about participating later. But know that I learned so much! And I made a lot of new writing friends too! Things were looking up!
The following week the pandemic happened.
Everything was unclear and scary. (Still is)
I took those months in between to (panic and stress about the world) reread my manuscript, write my query, synopsis, get feedback, research literary agents and agencies, read, read, and continue writing something new. I participated in more pitch events on Twitter, each time reworking my pitches and taking a different approach. People liked, commented, and RT'd them, and y'all, after that disappointing 2019 experience, this was the turnaround and push that I didn't know I needed.
Of course, it wasn't an ordinary year, the beginning of the year there was so much going on, then during the summer agents started closing to queries, and lastly, the holidays were coming up! Can't forget the holiday and end of year to-do lists. As much as I understand what it's like to have a lot of work and things to prioritize, truly. The last thing any querying writer wants to hear is agents saying, 'queries are the last on my list,' 'I don't really look at them,' 'I don't really look at queries because I have so many clients,' or something to that tune. Like, wow, good to know, I'll just um maybe not add you to my list then, maybe you go last, or maybe I can focus on finding an agent who's excited about new and diverse creators. If you're an agent or publishing professional reading this, please don't take offense. As an underrepresented writer in this industry, those words are crushing and discouraging.
So I decided to wait until 'later this year' when *waves at the world* things were not on fire. During the summer signed up for all the Zooms and webinars on writing. And I wrote my query and researched agents. *Insert dramatic music, please.* I also got feedback on everything. At this point in mid-September, a lot of agents were closing or remained closed from months earlier. Several agents left the industry! Many started changing their manuscript wishlists, and a lot of those lists were no longer including fantasy. Some agents and agencies started closing to unsolicited queries or decided they were only looking for non-fiction until further notice. Several BIPOC agents closed to queries, entire agencies closed to queries until further notice. I'm not panicking. You are!!
In October, when things started to get somewhat better and agents started reopening to queries, and all my to-do's were finished, I started querying. Since then, I've been querying, sending one or two queries at a time at first for a total of 'not many' I've been told. Responses, if any, are understandably taking longer than usual.
Now it's January again, and since sending my 'not many' queries, I've received full requests (yay!) and rejections and silence. But I'm hanging in there, nonetheless.
So what has querying been like so far...