Ugh. Querying. I never gave it much thought before oh, say, a month ago. Didn’t figure it would be my strong suit, considering my overall lack of patience. Ha – I was right!
Back in the day, after typing a manuscript, one would make copies and prepare them all to be sent off to potential literary agents. A writer would wait months for A) the USPS to actually deliver the envelopes; B) agents to dig through the stack and start reading; and C) finally, maybe, write back to the author and say YES! Except, usually, the answer was NO and, therefore, no response was given at all.
Today, one can simply send an email or fill out an online form with all one’s contact information, a synopsis, and a cover letter/introductory letter. And of course, the manuscript is written and saved on a computer. You could conceivably never have to even use a printer, let alone a copier. Another upside, too, is the speed – the potential agent receives everything within minutes as opposed to days or weeks.
Unfortunately, the publishing industry often seems to believe that we’re still in the dark ages.
Let’s say it used to take a week to arrive, a week for the agent to actually see the manuscript, a week to get through the query itself, and yet another week for their response to reach you. A month. If you were lucky. Yet, all the guidelines said it could take six MONTHS.
Now, the query arrives in minutes, agents see them within a couple days – if it took much longer, their inboxes would implode – and within minutes, one could have a response. Ideally. So, maybe an agent is backlogged. For six months? I kind of doubt it. I mean, we all know people who constantly yammer about how MUCH WORK they have to do, each and every day, but we all realize that that’s probably not absolutely true. Am I the ONLY person in the universe who messes around on Facebook every day? Or who, on some days, feels like doing NOTHING AT ALL? Ha.
But we all tiptoe around agents, thinking they somehow are better than we, and living in terror of The Rejection. And this is why self-publishing is a viable option for many writers.
For the record, I queried six agents. One rejection came within two days; one came within 24 hours of a second query I’d sent because I’d heard she’d been having email issues. One, admittedly, turned out to be worthless, so I never even “counted” him after the initial email.
The other three? Nothing. Nada. They’d probably say it’s because they’re so very, very busy. And important. At least, that’s the impression I get from folks who don’t bother, professionally, to even respond to a business communication. Except I call it “rude.”
Of course, a lot of authors don’t see it that way. They play the game – more power to them! Some even query dozens of agents, or hundreds. Personally, I have better things to do with my time. Hence, the SP route. I gave it a shot – enough of one, for me. You might decide differently, and that’s okay too!