Query Road.

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.

“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.

21 Responses

  1. Just wanted to say HI. I found your blog a few days ago on Technorati and have been reading it over the past few days.

  2. It’s what the publishers and agents are telling themselves, too, trust me. 🙂 No one like a slush pile.

    Another great post, Em.

    I’m curious: have any of the letters at all given you any suggestions? Any more “promising” rejections?

  3. No. No suggestions. No promising rejections, per se. I’ve had a few personalized rejections, but in apology, and no advice.

    I think it’s the eating disorder theme.


  4. Hi Em,

    Argh! I’m really sorry your pages got rejected.

    But what a great post! I love the never-give-up mixed with a large dose of humor- attitude.

    Naturally, one should write queries in their pjs. I mean, hey, that’s how I am revising my entire novel. 🙂

    Anyhow, keep at it, Em! You will meet the right agent for your memoir and for yourself, personally. I truly believe that.


  5. Keep those diamonds winking over the keyboard.

  6. Thank you, Tasha!

    The novel is fiction, actually, as the memoir will come later — I think that’s even harder to write.

    I have yet to have God hang out on my couch throwing balls for the dogs and eating pizza, winks : ) (like in my novel). Although, it would sure shake things up around here. I’d ask him to throw a snowstorm, to cool things off a little.

    Your encouragement means alot to me. Thank you, Tasha.

    Em : )

  7. You bet, H.

    Although, my engagement ring is known to poke the terriers, lol, so I’ll stick to the anniversary band. : )


  8. Thanks for visiting my blog and … leaving a comment!

  9. Hey, thanks for visiting me. I loved this post – no time to read more but I’m putting a link to you on my site. What it sounds like to me, is that you’ve got a novel about an eating disorder on the market. Dare I hope that the delightful sense of humor you convey in your Blog made it into this dark and difficult theme?

    Damn – I should have bought a diamond instead of a new laptop!

  10. Em: it actually seems a very relevant topic to me. Who is your audience, exactly? Young adult?

  11. Ilanadavita:

    You are very welcome. : ) And your blog is very interesting. I plan to check back when I have a little more time.


  12. Uppington — love the name. : )

    Yes, the novel is about a young woman (24 yrs old) in therapy for an eating disorder. And yes, I definitely kept the humor in there, too. The book maps out the mindset of both an e.d. and recovery. So it’s not so gloom and doom, or sensationalistic as some other books on the topic have been.

    I think the problem is in agents making a sweeping generalization as soon as the topic registers.

    Having had an eating disorder for most of my life, and now having eight years of recovery, I just want to help. I want to pass on what helped me, and give other women a hand up. That’s why I wrote the book. I even have a sales outlet in place. It’s just finding the agent who doesn’t generalize, I guess, and who will give it a chance.

    Thank you for adding me to your blogroll! I plan to do the same. : ) Us writers have to stick together. : )


  13. Hey Steph!

    Some people said the book was more like literary fiction, due to its plot being insight-related, but the subject matter makes that a hard sell. I think it fits women’s fiction best, and the targeted audience is e.d. people and family and friends — three to five million sufferers in the U.S. alone — with this group being voracious buyers and readers of all books on the topic.

    By the time I was solidly in recovery, I had bought so many books over the years that they made a small library, and I donated them to an ANRED (eating disorder) group.

    The audience/market is out there.

    I do think my query letter is pretty honed, along with my synopsis. (If you want to see the query letter/synopsis, let me know, I wouldn’t mind emailing and hearing what you think).

    It’s been difficult narrowing down agents for this subject matter. I query agents who rep women’s fiction.

    I was just thinking yesterday eve how difficult the query process already is, and with my topic, the haystacks just got bigger and the needles, smaller, lol.

    My husband says no good deed goes unpunished. : P


  14. Em:

    Sure, let’s email! I can certainly take a look at that letter for you. I’ll admit that right now I’m working on a couple of tight deadlines, but I will definitely make some time for you and let you know what I think and if I have suggestions. It might not be right away, but it will be soon.

  15. Thanks Steph! I definitely don’t want to burden you, and there’s no rush.

    The query is short and to the point and very edited, at least, and I’d love to know if I did it right!


  16. I thought I’d add the link to my novel’s synopsis, for anyone interested.


    Thanks everyone for all the support and encouragement.

    : ) You make it fun chugging down Query Road.


  17. Thank you, Josh! And thank you for reading and commenting. : )

    I had to save your comment from the spam file. I’m so glad I didn’t miss it! So sorry it took this long to post it.

    I’m on technorati? Cool. : )


  18. I got my first rejection yesterday. A form letter. It hurt a tiny, tiny bit because I felt that the agent’s profile suited me but I guess he didn’t feel the same way.

    I’m excited too because I’ve taken on step closer to finding my agent. On a forum, a woman said that all the agents are stones in a jar. You take every rejection stone out and eventually you reach the acceptance.

    Maybe I’m being so positive because I’ve only had one rejection so far, compared to others with hundreds.

    Subscribing to your blog,


  19. Welcome, Zahra! The more the merrier. : )

    I LOVE the mental picture of agents being stones in a jar! It’s so true to life.

    In this process, I don’t think anyone avoids the rejections. At first they were hard for me, because it’s like walking up to the gate of your hopes and dreams and having the gatekeeper say NO.

    I realized early on that how I viewed the process, and how I viewed my part in it could result in me either sticking it out, or giving up.

    I’m glad you’re here. : ) It helps to have others going through the same thing, as we put our hearts out there. I think you have a great attitude. And I’m sorry about the form letter.

    And, I know what you mean — the rejection I received after a request for pages was from a wonderful agent raved about by her writers. Sigh.

    Onward, right? : ) We can do this.

    I look forward to checking out your blog today, too, after I feed the horses and scrub water buckets!


  20. LOL about diamonds. Well, those are a little out of my price range, but I do wear rhinestones sometimes. 😛

  21. LOL! Anything that shines will do. : )


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