They say that I won’t last too long on Broadway
I’ll catch a Greyhound bus for home, they all say
But they’re dead wrong, I know they are
‘Cause I can play this here guitar
And I won’t quit till I’m a star on Broadway.
Interestingly enough, I’ve been thinking lately about how the query process is much like a cross-country road trip. You start out all excited for new adventures and new scenery, with a “gas tank” overflowing with hopes and dreams, and a vehicle called the internet.
Like any other road trip, there will be stops (self-doubt) and starts (new agencies to query), wrong turns (form rejections), and wonderful sights (personalized rejections, requests for pages, partials and fulls).
Continuing on-course, the final destination (agent representation, your book sold, publication) is just around the bend. You may not see it from where you sit, pounding on the keys and obsessively checking email, but it’s out there waiting for your arrival, with cake and champagne and helium balloons and maybe, if you’re lucky, a small, grinning monkey that does cartwheels and handstands.
Of course, as you’re querying, there are things you can do to make the process more enjoyable.
1) Wear diamonds. Yes, I’m not kidding. As you watch your fingers readying the next email query, it’s a lot prettier when you’re wearing diamonds that catch the light and throw rainbows onto the walls. In this case, more IS better, with diamond anniversary bands throwing the most light to guide you down Query Road.
2) Query in your pajamas — heck, do it in a t-shirt and undies while sitting in bed. Thumb your nose at authority and professional protocol, but in a way that won’t impact your query letters or your chances.
3) Each time you hit send on a query letter, get up on your bed and jump up and down, like you did as a kid. Memorize how it feels to be launched into the air, and imagine your book doing the same. But a word of caution: remove all purring cats and snoring dogs, first.
Of course, even on Query Road, your vehicle can overheat. Sometimes it’s one mile forward and two miles doubling back. At times the road will be closed, or you’ll encounter a dead end. That’s okay. It’ll make for great stories, later.
I keep all this wisdom in mind today, especially after the request for pages I wrote about last week turned into a form rejection this week, along with two more form rejections — one yesterday, and one this morning.
I’m still standing tall, or, um, sitting. I’ve got my diamonds on, the gas tank remains full of dreams, and it’s full speed ahead.
If you find yourself rejected and dejected as you make your way down Query Road, pull over into the nearest Rest Stop (named after your favorite writer, of course) and give yourself permission to feel it; set a time limit, get a slurpee and a soft pretzel, kick the tire a few times, and then settle yourself back behind the wheel.
Take a deep breath, and repeat after me: There are amazing and exciting things just around the bend. There are amazing and exciting things just around the bend. There are amazing and exciting things just around the bend …
Because that’s what the published authors tell themselves.