My Querying Journey
I will probably make an entire post with query info, do's and don'ts, general templates you can follow, and just general advice that I've found useful thus far. However, because no... (*ahem*) announcements have been made yet, I'm going to hold off.
I did want to share with you guys a bit of my journey. I'll share final stats and things in a couple of weeks, so stay tuned for that. For now, we'll stay general.
How did I know this was the book?
Frankly, I didn't, really. I had no idea if this was the book, and to an extent, I still don't. The real question is, is there a the book? Honestly, probably not. The thing about writing is that your style, tastes, and market trends are literally always changing. That shitty dystopian novel I wrote a few years ago is currently collecting dust on my hard drive. That's where it belongs. Right now. But in a few years, who knows? I might blow the dust off that thing and dive into edits in a year or two. This is why I tell people not to actually kill your darlings. You never know when they might be worth something. That's why I've kept my Pokémon cards all these years.
The truth is, I queried this book because it was the first one I wrote *vigorously* (I wrote a majority of the 98K book in less than 3 months), and had the tenacity to edit on a timeline. I was passionate about it, but I was also able to step back and see it for what it was. I was always a little too close to my other books. Not far away enough to give them all of the work and help they needed. I love SONG OF CHEVEYO with a force. I love it enough to change it because I know it can be better. For the first time, with this book, I see everything it can be. And that's how I knew.
SONG OF CHEVEYO is also quite timely. The plot is centered around a teenage girl, Amelia, and her relationship with a lost and injured orca calf, Cheveyo, who needs her help. SONG OF CHEVEYO places a blinding highlight on the intensity of the level of danger our real life Southern Resident orcas are in right now. I can only hope that they will still be around when this book comes out one day. Teenagers care about animals, probably more than adults. They have the passion and willpower to make real change, and sometimes, change starts with black and white words on a page. Words are 2D, but the feelings they evoke are larger than life.
How did I know it was ready?
My best friend forced me to send my first query, which went out on October 13th, 2022. I sent very, very few queries at first. I was extremely nervous and I felt like it wasn't ready. I felt like I needed to edit the thing 500 times for it to be ready. To be honest, I wrote the book (draft 0), I had my CP read It. I applied her edits, and then I went through for a self-edit. I sent it out to two betas and applied their feedback, and that was it. That was all of the editing I did. Honestly, I probably should've edited it more. There are things I can think of as I sit here now that I would like to change. And I probably will.
But that's the amazing thing about all this.
You can still change your book after querying. It's not like you get picked up and your manuscript is sent off to the presses. In fact, you will change things with the professional guidance of your agent. And the way I knew and finally settled with myself that I was ready was because when I did my final read through, I knew I was at a point where I'd done everything I could confidently do on my own. I knew that in order to make true improvements from this point on, I would need professional guidance. Which is the point of your agent.
So I sent out my first query with draft 4 of my novel. And that's fine with me.
How was my querying experience?
If you're reading this, there's a good chance that you're from Twitter. I actually recorded my entire journey of writing SONG OF CHEVEYO on TikTok, but I didn't gain a ton of traction on those videos. Probably because my account isn't niched down, and probably never will be.
After being largely inactive on Twitter for a long time, I decided around the time I started querying that I would basically live tweet my experience. This was partially inspired after I read an agent's tweet that said "Don't tweet about your rejections too much. After all, querying is a lot like dating 😉 " and I was like. Hold the phone. Sure, I want to be relatable, but what if I highlight my successes as much as possible? It helps me to remain hopeful, instills hope in other querying authors, and agents like it. Because it creates hype around the book. It makes people interested. And it did. Or, I like to thing it did. It also created a community around me, and people who were genuinely interested in SONG OF CHEVEYO, which I never really had before. That community was a huge part of what got me through querying.
Again, I'm not going to go over query stats yet, but I sent out a good number of queries. I was even calling myself the query hoe on Twitter. And that's fine. In today's market, and with how slow everything is, I always tell people to cast their nets wide. I did use a strategy, and I will go over that in another post, but essentially, I cast my net wide.
I got my first full request after a pitch event (MoodPitch), on 11/3. After that, I was getting 1-2 full requests per week. I think this was partially sped up by the hype on my Tweet from MoodPitch.
I can't give too many more details right this second, but I will tell you that I received a good number of fulls, and as it stands now, my request rate is about 25%. This is pretty high considering my volume, and I was shocked at the amount of interest. And honestly, after all the work I put into my query materials, I was just happy they were working. I *cough* stopped querying after 55 days in the trenches.
Emotionally, querying is...hard. The advice I will give now is to make sure you're mentally and emotionally ready to query. You will face a lot of rejection. A lot. And that's okay. It's not a reflection of your skill. But that's hard to convince yourself of when you're getting rejected left and right, getting rejections on fulls, R&Rs (particularly painful). My 25% request rate also means a 75% rejection rate. And I felt every single rejection. So that's tough. But my advice is to find community, and take control wherever you can during the journey. And also, enjoy it. Because it is kind of fun, even though it feels all-consuming for the duration of your time in the trenches. Take it in stride, and you will be fine.
When will you stop being so vague?
I had to stop tweeting because I can't be trusted. I will have more information for you sometime in January, and I will be sure to send out a newsletter as soon as possible to update you all!
Until then, make sure you're subscribed to my newsletter, and follow me on all the socials so you don't miss out!