Querying is a frustrating process. I envy the people who are beyond this stage, the people who’ve secured an agent who not only adores their book, but will serve as an advocate, supporter, sounding board, and, in many cases first-round editor. These authors are lucky. Not only have they secured an agent and are one step closer to becoming published, but they also DON’T HAVE TO QUERY ANYMORE!
Last week was a bit of a gloomy week. I received three form rejections (two within hours of each other) and found myself down in the dumps. Yes, rejection is a part of writing (not to mention a part of life), but anyone who tells you it isn’t discouraging is a liar. It never feels good to be told that your work isn’t good enough.
Here’s what has been most frustrating for me personally: I know my query letter isn’t the problem. It’s good. I’ve been told by several professionals in the industry that it’s compelling— excellent, even. And honestly, I don’t think my first pages are the problem either. They’re good, too. A nice mix of characterization, back-story, dialogue, plot and action, free of spelling and grammatical errors.
So, what is the problem? I’ve got two guesses:
One) I’ve got no mind-blowing, shock-you-out-of-your-seat hook. No vampires, witches, time travel, world catastrophe, government coup, fall-into-a-manhole-and-discover-an-alternate-universe hook. Forget Me Not is about a relationship, about how two teenagers face an unforeseen and shocking challenge.
Two) Forget Me Not deals with rape (though not graphically) and its aftermath. I have to wonder if some agents decline based on personal taste and a hesitancy to tread into something so dark and taboo.
Unfortunately, these are not things I can fix. I’d almost rather have an agent tell me that the voice of my characters isn’t strong enough, or that the plot drags, or even that my grasp on the English language sucks. At least those are all things I can work on!
The good news is that I allowed myself a few non-working days to emerge from my funk and now I feel good again, ready to muddle through and continue to query widely. As I told my husband the other night, I’m back in the game! Maybe someday soon I’ll have some good querying news to share!