Serendipity On Query Road.

“There is nothing either good or bad

but thinking makes it so.”

Shakespeare

 Hamlet, II, 2, 253. 

Who doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies? I highly recommend them, myself. Not only because they’re easy to eat while driving down Query Road, but because they’re a yummy example of serendipity.

Chocolate chip cookies, therefore, also remind me of the query process.

 As you chug down Query Road collecting tickets (Dear Author rejections), keep your eyes on the road and continue to follow the map — the map of your aspirations. As you pull out of the (insert your favorite writer here) Rest Stop, do bet on the fact that your oil tank will be full of serendipity.

Even better than oil, serendipity never runs low. It also works with your gas tank (full of hopes and dreams) quite exquisitely.    

Actually, chocolate chip cookies owe their very existence to serendipity: 

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

“When the Toll House Inn’s Ruth Wakefield ran out of baking chocolate one day in 1930, she smashed up a bar of semi-sweet chocolate and added the pieces to her dough. Upon their removal from the oven, the cookies weren’t uniformly infused with melted chocolate, but rather studded with little chunks throughout. The signature sweet put her Whitman, Massachusetts inn on the culinary map.”

(information courtesy of AOL)

Some more tips for navigating Query Road, and to avoid dinging your chances of agent representation? 

1) Don’t, don’t, DON’T gripe and complain about specific agents and their rejections on your blog.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t talk about the process and your experiences. By talking about it, you help other writers not as far along as you. It’s important that we keep helping each other.

I’m just saying that, just like us, (you know you do! : ), agents and people in the publishing industry google their names. The last thing you want to do is insult or anger agents (or their agent friends) who might have been considering representation until they read your blog.    

Just last week, through my own googling of agents as I prepared more queries, I came across many blogs (of irate, rejected writers) complaining about rejection letters, the type of rejection letters, how long it took to receive the rejection letter, the wording of the rejection letter, etc. and etc. 

Doing this (being a bad sport) is tantamount to racing down Query Road and aiming straight for a tree at one hundred miles an hour.

Talk about your experience, sure, but leave out the names. Plan on getting a mail bag full of rejections. The more realistic you are, the less the sting.

2) You’re not a serial killer (I hope not : ) but are you a serial comma user? Do you use too many adjectives? How about typos?

There is a wealth of information to be mined down Query Road. Learn something!

For example, before you query, check the agency’s website and their agents’ blogs — not just for submission guidelines, but for their personal preferences. Often you will come across a goldmine of information on grammar, how to prepare your query, how to improve your manuscript and other information that only works to make your work and your submission better.

3) For every rejection letter you receive, send out two more queries. Get filled with the excitement of new scenery instead of stalled out on Query Road, going nowhere.  

Using my past three rejection letters as an example, there are now six more query letters sailed off into the world. It only takes one yes — so keep those queries coming.

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10 Responses

  1. I love chocolate chip cookies, especially with coconut shreds in them.

  2. Again, I love your attitude! And you raised some excellent points. I don’t think enough people take seriously the amount of research you need to do when querying a particular agent or publisher.

    Sorry I haven’t got back to you on email. I’m having major computer issues. I’ve also got a book due on the 8th that I really need to work on religiously. Is it okay if I pick up our email correspondence after that?

    Steph

  3. Yum, I love them with coconut, too! : )

    Em

  4. Hey Steph!

    No worries, for real. I have a good ten queries out there now, and taking a break won’t hurt me — querying is all I’ve been doing 7 days a week the last two weeks, along with all the research.

    I have a really busy rest of the week ahead of me, as we’re in the midst of clearing land to move the shelter we were supposed to be putting up for Cloudy this morning to higher ground. That makes me the one picking up all the knocked over bushes and brush and branches and stuff that the horses love to run around with in their mouths — much like little kids running with scissors — which can’t happen, of course.

    It’s like a mini-vacation away from the computer, if you don’t count the cactus (cholla) arms and the hot sun. : )

    I’m just very grateful for the help, but for real, no rush. Just big thanks. And luck luck luck on your projects! I know you’ll do great, Miss Editor.

    Em : )

  5. Great attitude, Em!

    Here’s some interesting thoughts:

    Best-selling author Stephenie Meyer received 9 rejection letters before she landed an agent. On her webpage, she even mentions that meanest rejection letter she received was after she landed her big book deal and that she was tempted send a copy her rejection letter stapled to the write-up her deal got in Publishers Weekly to that agent (she didn’t, of course). So, it’s natural to get angry. It also shows that persistantance and professinoalism pays off in the end.

    Also, J. K. Rowling got rejected 12 times until it was picked up by Bloomsbury, mainly because the CEO’s daughter read a copy of the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and begged for more. So sometimes fate steps in and gives you an unlikely nudge where you least expect it.

    If you search the archives, there are plenty more stories — I just like these because they are two of my favorite authors. Hopefully, they’ll inspire you, too.

    In the meantime, wishing you best of luck with the next round of letters.

    — C.

  6. Thank you, C! : )

    It does inspire me, probably more than anything else — knowing how many amazing books and writers were rejected over and over again, and the one thing they have in common is that they never quit.

    They are the models we cling to, us new writers on the same path. And yes, fate and serendipity are very welcome additions to the process, and can only perform their magic for us as long as we keep putting ourselves out there. : )

    My favorite part of J. K. Rowling’s story is that she was on welfare when she was querying for the first book in the H.P. series.

    Em

  7. Em,

    I had to thank you for your comment. What a great idea! I hadn’t heard of those sites before but thanks to you…a LOT of people will learn about them today. I forwarded your comment to Rosie’s family.

    Thank you so much!

    I have 2 cats and 1 HUGE dog and they ARE my children. Stewie (the younger cat) got outside on the coldest night of the year and he was gone all night. (I don’t let my cats outside) I was in tears and wandering around the neighborhood for half the night with a flashlight. It WAS a nightmare!

    Annie

  8. You are so welcome, Annie.

    For anyone reading this and wondering what we’re talking about, check out:

    http://mywordandwelcometoit.wordpress.com/2008/08/28/have-you-seen-this-dog/

    Rosie, a chihuahua much loved by a family and their children, is lost in Georgia. She was last seen being picked up by a woman off the street.

    DogDetective.com and FidoFinder.com are two great sites and wonderful aids in finding lost dogs.

    Rosie and her family remain in my prayers.

    Em

  9. This is great! Your post was almost like a response to a post I just wrote, even though it was written several days earlier.

  10. Thanks! I plan to do the blog rounds (I’ll check out your post, too) after we’re done with the tractor here, since it goes back tomorrow …

    Em

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