Writing itself is already hard enough, but querying is a whole different ballgame where the balls are made of metal spikes and are also on fire. Querying is a process that is out of your hands and that is probably what makes it so hard. Here are some tips to make it feel less like walking on a tightrope above an active volcano.
Make sure your novel is all wrapped up with a nice, little bow and preferably no spelling mistakes, plot holes, or flat characters. Not only that, make sure it’s not your first draft and that you’ve had beta readers help you improve the story. Basically, make sure your story is query-ready and then tackle the demon that is a synopsis. Research some tips on how to write one and ask fellow writers to read it and offer feedback. Do the same with the query letter. Writing a good query letter is not easy and any help you can get will be good. So don’t be afraid to ask for it. Twitter is especially a good place to ask for help if you’ve made good connections. It also doesn’t hurt to sacrifice paper clips to the Writing Gods.
You have to decide which agents you want to query. This is important because you want to make sure you send your query to the right agent. The agent-hunting process is a lot like online dating. You find out what they’re looking for and see if it matches what you’re looking for and if you can offer what they want. It’s actually worse than dating because agents hold all the cards, really. It also doesn’t hurt to follow agents on Twitter. Especially if they regularly tweet tips.
If you’ve found an agent you like then you submit. Just make sure you know HOW to submit to them, or the world will explode into glitter. Usually, it’s a synopsis, the first three chapters and obviously a query letter, but it can differ and some want all those glorious words in the body of an email instead of attached. Now, this part is very important so feel free to read it twice. After you’ve queried, YOU WRITE. Whatever new story has popped up, follow it on paper and keep writing. Keep track of whom you’ve queried and when as well as whether or not they’ll reply even when it’s a ‘no’. That way you know when you can start querying the next agent. I usually query two agents at the same time and have the next two written down on my list so I don’t have to look for agents first. No rest for the wicked.
Even if you get a ‘no’ from an agent-which is very likely since it’s a gruelling process-if you keep on writing it means that you can query that agent later on with your new novel. That way the agent sees that you’ve got more than just that one story and that you’re interested in them as an agent. So, make sure you know what to/how to submit to what agent and keep on writing. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t give up. With every novel you write, you get better at it, which means a bigger chance of getting published. And don’t forget about sacrificing paper clips to the Writing Gods.