Monday, October 7, 2013

Don't Quit Writing

By way of continuation of my post from Saturday, Quit Not Sucking, I have to add another (shorter) verse: Don't Quit Writing.

There are so many events in a writer's experience that suck the wind right out of our sails.  The obvious ones, of course, are things like never seeming to have time or getting negative commentary on your work.  But it's just as insidiously easy to drop off the writing once you're at a certain point of the noveling process--like, say, for today's example: querying.

Yes, it's rather easy to go through once you've successfully completed the novel and compulsively obsess on the query process.  Querying is challenging, after all.  First, you have to find agents to query.  This can require a lot of a lot of a lot of web searching.  Yes, you can find books in print that will help you, but to my opinion they're not worth the paper they're written on.  By the time the ink dries on their pages they're outdated, the agents listed in them having already shuttered their submissions windows. 

The best bet to begin?  Look up your favorite authors to see who their agents are (Google "[author's name] agent").  Then look up those agents online.  Odds are strong that most of the agents you find this way won't be accepting queries, but some will.  Once you run through those just start Googling for agents.  I've found to be an excellent source.  I've also found to be an excellent source.

The second hardest part, unarguably, is crafting the blurb, the query letter, and the synopsis.  I gave a short and somewhat snarky rundown on how to approach those in my recent post titled What Does Being A Writer Mean?.  They're certainly not impossible to do, but they're not as easy as a lot of people seem to assume.

Then there's the seemingly progressive activity involved with the actual querying.  I open a Word document containing each component of the query process and an Excel spreadsheet containing the information on the agents, and use a lot of copy and pasting to piece together the submissions, painstakingly, one at a time.  If you do it this way, you must make sure that in each case you proofread what you're sending before you hit the "can't pull it back now" button, as it doesn't do to forget to change the currently queried agent's name from the previous one (not that, um--okay, fine, I've done that, yes, I have). 

And then--write.  There's a reason we're called writers rather than query submitters.  Yes, the querying is important if you wish to be traditionally published, but the efforts on continuing the string of productivity is just as important.  Can't get your head wrapped around another novel yet?  Fine--write a short.  Get a novella going.  Better yet: mentally dare the agents you just queried to get you signed up before you can finish the novella. 

Hey, look, you're going to get rejected.  Stephen King was rejected.  J.K. Rowling was rejected.  The Help was rejected sixty times.  If all you're doing is querying, though, you're going to focus in on the rejections.  Don't do that. 

Keep writing, keep creating.  Keep going.


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