Welcome Ye to the Query Process

chain gangWhilst I wait patiently, perhaps for a certain awesome publisher to call me on the phone, apologizing profusely for the interminably lengthy time between his associate reading my novel and his own reading of the thing because he’s been, literally, swamped with queries; followed by a breathless admission of “love at first sight” for, and enthusiastic invitation to publish, said novel. . .

. . .or, perhaps, whilst simultaneously waiting with equal aplomb for a certain fantastic literary agent to phone me, equally apologetic, for the delay between the e-mail assuring me that yes, my novel is most definitely still under consideration, and her call singing praises and offering representation. . .

I wait and, whilst waiting, force myself to attend to the arduous task at hand: HARD LABOR; aka, “querying”,  which I understand a writer should do, must do, whilst waiting for THE CALL, which–in reality–may not and likely, shall not, come.

(Although we writers hope and pray and even expect that it will come, because we live in our own little fantasy worlds. . .)

Querying one’s manuscript is grunt work, we writers know it is. A slavish task. Researching agents and their agencies, combing online sites like AgentQuery and QueryTracker and AbsoluteWrite and Chuck Sambuchino’s Writer’s Digest Literary Agent Spotlight blog thingie; frantically jotting notes and adding data to spreadsheets relative to wants and wishes, likes and dislikes, submission rules and regulations; fine-tuning each query to each agent, which means carefully following instructions as to ‘Subject Line Content’ and ‘Salutation’, nervously copying the first five pages of one’s novel, or the first ten, or first fifty; or first chapter, first three chapters, one page synopsis (or is it two?) and saving said material as a pdf, or word doc, or rtf, or. . .

NO!!!! You must not attach a file or your email will be DESTROYED; instead, you must paste your pages and synopsis into the body of your email, knowing the format will come to the agent totally askew and then, when you have crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s and drank that gallon of whatever the hell that was; when you’ve read your query over and over before hitting ‘send’, only to hit ‘send’ and immediately pull up the query you just, just sent, and stab your eye with your pencil because YOU SEE A MISTAKE MY GOD HOW DID THAT HAPPEN???!!!

. . .and dang it all, that agent was really. Effing. Perfect. . .

Right now, I am actively querying two novels: CHERRY, and EFFIN’ ALBERT. I’m not complaining. Each of us has our own cross to bear. Welcome to the query  process, my dear, sweet, fellow writers.

You have my sympathies.


4 thoughts on “Welcome Ye to the Query Process

  1. Good lord, woman–you got me all aflutter with that first line, thinking you had received an email to expect a call. Sigh. Querying is nerve-wracking. I’m in the trenches with you, jumping with every ding of my email. 😀


  2. If it helps, I hear tell nowadays they email first to set up The Call 😉

    Like you, I’m waiting on a publisher (well, it was an open call. I’m not holding my breath) and now I’ve finally started editing one book…oh yeah, and writing ANOTHER, because it’s CampNaNoWriMo. Back to the salt mines!

    Are you querying different agents with CHERRY and EFFIN’ ALBERT? I know (or think I know) ALBERT has some arguably supernatural-ish elements in it, but for the right agent, that matters less if it’s a thriller. I think.


    • Jen, I’m happy to hear that you are back to work, not in that seemingly endless holding pattern. Action begets action. Wishing you a lot of luck there.

      As for ALBERT and CHERRY, generally, the agent pools are different. Minimal overlap. Mostly because, whilst both are adult fiction, have strong voice, are written in first person POV, and include elements of suspense, CHERRY is a gritty love story skirting that ‘literary’ boundary. I take a lot of chances with CHERRY relative to plot, characterization, writing conventions and such. On the other hand, ALBERT is pure, and the characters are innocent. It’s most definitely suspense and more commercially viable, I think. I’m thinking those books will initially appeal to a different set of readers . . . ALTHOUGH, I also believe that once readers find kkellie, and read her stuff, they’ll be clamoring to read more of her stuff, regardless of genre.


      That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

      xo kk

      ETA: Changing that analysis. They’re more alike than not, ergo, the agent pool is shared more than not. As I’ve started querying ALBERT in earnest, I’m seeing a lot of the same names.



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