Week 1: Query Challenge Update

Ok, so the big question of the day or week or even month is ……

How’s the challenge going? 

Long pause….

Utter, stutter, utter, stutter, no words…

If we get right to the numbers here they are.

Queried:  15 sent out

Rejections:  2 received

Its weird because within a day or two of the challenge I knew I had bitten off far more than I could chew.  5 queries a day what the, was I thinking.  I am far too thorough and detail oriented about everything I do to move that fast.  I really needed a few days to figure out my strategy and then the rhythm I felt would develop over the course of the challenge.  And so far so good.  I feel like I’m flowing.

Is it a good place to be flowing?

Yes, it forces me to keep diligent and not think the thoughts that invade my mind space.

Thoughts like what?

Thoughts like (hopefully no agent is offended but it’s my party and I’ll vent if I want to),

…ten years ago I queried one editor like a fresh fish out of water without researching any rules and regulations and I received the nicest rejection letter ever.  It threw me for a loop because I had never received one before but I knew from that letter the editor read my book and considered me, the writer, when she wrote the rejection.  Now my thoughts wonder if agents are simply middle men, gatekeepers that may block a true exchange of creativity and feedback. Hmmm.

…Form rejections, what does that mean?  Did you not like the writing, the topic, the characters?  Or hey she didn’t follow a rule so send out the form.  One less in the slush. Hmmm.

I really don’t know but thank goodness I’m not the humble type.  Remember that’s one of my issues I confessed about in the last piece.  Therefore each rejection simply says one less agent to wonder about.  Remember I’ve only received two after 102 who knows what I’ll be feeling.

…OMGosh what was I thinking, does this book suck?  It is not unique, fresh, or even good.  Why am I trying to become a published author anyway?  These thoughts don’t come often but when they come I do have to press through.  One strategy I used was to write another book or two.  Yes I finished two more picture books.  Another strategy was to read at a Women’s Literature Read In at the college I work at.  And when I looked up from the podium, there were people there that specifically came to hear ME.  Take that self-doubt.

….checking out agents’ clients and books to find out if you would fit within their list leads to more questions.  Well let me see, out of the 40 to 50 agents I’ve researched there maybe 4 or 5 that might have an author of color.  Does that mean I don’t fit?  Hmmm.

…..If an agent has never represented an African American author or represented multicultural works what does that mean?  Do they not relate?  Is a lack of African American, Asian American, Mexican American and the list goes on, an indictment on the writers or the agents or the publishing industry?  I don’t know what it means. Hmmm.

—What does actively seeking multicultural authors mean?  Are you as an agency sponsoring special readings or reviews, projects, contests, critiques, or webcasts for aspiring multicultural authors?  Or is seeking multicultural stories/authors just a cool thing to say because “We Need Diverse Books”?

On a positive note, I have had some wonderful epiphanies as well, which include;

…How marvelous and phenomenal it is for me to research an agent and find out they represented many of the books I used as teaching companions to help my students fall in love with Reading.

…..I was able to say thankyou to Elizabeth Harding, Sheldon Fogelman, Liza Pulitzer-Voges, Gina McCoby, and Edward NecarsulmerIV which have all championed multicultural works into publishing and into the hands of my students. What a wonderful legacy.  They are my rock stars.

Yes my sister and I went through a KISS and TWISTED SISTER stage in the 80’s. Two black girls from Detroit. That’s why we need diverse books.

….Querying for me is like eating vegetables and Writing represents everything dessert like a little something sweet, chocolate, peach cobbler, bread pudding, ice cream, pound cake, and sweet potato pie all wrapped up.  I could live off those desserts but it wouldn’t represent balance or health.

…..I can’t write and query at the same time.  Unfortunately querying hinders my new creative juices but it does help me look at what I’m submitting with a more critical, editorial eye.


Strut your stuff. You deserve it!

If you’ve taken on a new challenge in writing or life  tell me about it by leaving a comment.

8 thoughts on “Week 1: Query Challenge Update

  1. Hi!

    Thanks so much for leaving that comment on my Jenny Han interview. I really appreciate it!

    It always fascinates me to read about the querying process because we really don’t have that in my country. It’s usually writers who are either already personalities (celebrities and the like), those recognized by academia, or romance novels written in the vernacular language. It’s only know that there’s a growing size of “middlebrow” – that’s not the word I want to use but I can’t think of the right one right now – books that cater to an underserved audience.

    • Wow, I didn’t know that. How interesting how different our two systems are, and in a way how sad. I believe it’s apart of the American dream ideology that anyone can pursue their dreams regardless of status. Mine is becoming published. Hopefully that dream is available for everyone everywhere soon.

  2. Hi!

    Thanks for leaving the comment on my interview with Jenny Han! Really appreciate it.

    It always fascinates me reading about the querying process because it’s something that doesn’t exist in my country. We don’t really have an agent system, and we’re only really now building a publishing infrastructure similar to this one.

    • You know 10 years ago publishers seemed to be much more accessible but now agented ms are most marketed for publication. Seems like a lot of hoops to jump but anything in life worth accomplishing usually has many.

  3. Hi!

    Thanks for leaving the nice comment on my Jenny Han interview.

    I find it really interesting reading about the querying process as it’s something that’s only began to exist recently where I’m from. We’re only now beginning to come up with infrastructure like the one you have in the US, and even then it’s being quickly usurped by the internet!

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