Sunday, December 16, 2012
Querying & Online Dating: The Scary Similarities
So instead of dating, I query. Which is practically the same thing.
First, I go online in search of all the beautiful agents that are looking for what I have to offer. But instead of finding someone who "likes long walks on the beach and getting caught in the rain" I swoon when I see someone who's seeking "Middle-Grade magical realism with quirky characters."
Once I find the agents who are looking for *gasp* exactly what I have to offer, I send them an email. Not just any email... a query. And not just any query. This query is so polished it practically blinds me when I look at it. Here, I tell the object of my affection why they're special to me ("You're not like all the others"), why my manuscript would be a great fit for them, and then, just a little bit about myself.
There are only four possible responses when reaching out to a possible date/agent:
1) The SNUB
You get nothing back. No rejection email, no thanks but no thanks. Nothing. (Editor's Note: This is perfectly acceptable and even expected in querying... but not so polite in dating.)
2) Flat-out REJECTION.
Sorry. But you/your manuscript is not for me. It's not you, it's me. We just didn't connect.
3) The POSSIBLE Connection
Send me some sample pages or let's meet for a drink sometime.
4) The MORE-THAN-POSSIBLE Connection
Send me the full manuscript or I'll take you out for a five-course dinner.
Out of the above four possible responses, there are only two possible outcomes:
1) The REJECTION After Reading
Hey, I've gotten to know you/your manuscript and although I really like you/your manuscript, I just don't feel strongly enough to keep going. Keep in mind that everybody's tastes are different so even though I don't like you/your manuscript, someone else might.
2) The PROPOSAL
Hey, I've gotten to know you/your manuscript and I think we could have something really special. Will you let me marry/represent you/your manuscript?
Life Goes On
Of course, in between, you experience the roller-coaster ride of emotions. There's the exhilaration of receiving that first email asking for pages. Then there's the devastating disappointment of being dumped, and mourning the relationship that almost was. You wonder if maybe you should have done your hair/written that first Chapter differently. Perhaps you had spinach in your teeth/backstory in your opening. You pray that your would-be soul-mate/agent would just give you even a little tiny hint as to what turned him/her off. You lose sleep. You cry a little. Then you move on, and the search continues.
In the end, we all have hope that some day, we'll find The One. The One who understands us/our manuscript, The One who sees the depth of our soul/manuscript, The One who will help make us a better person/writer.
As I go through this process, I remind myself that after years of unsatisfying relationships and devastating disappointments, I actually found my husband online. And I'd suffer the same mishaps all over again to find the person that recognizes my worth... or at least my potential.