On Writing: Into Battle (The Publishing Battle, That Is)

“I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to say here. I could be all dramatic, but I don’t think that’ll help. So I’ll just go with the good old ‘whatever happens, happens.’ I’m ready. My odds are impossible, but I’m ready. I wish I wasn’t so scared. But starting now, I want to take on the attitude of ‘everything happens for a reason.’ Tacky and clichéd, I know, but so am I. Maybe I’ll make it today, or tomorrow, or never. All I know right now is that I’ll never give up.”

–  Written by me today, 3/5/13, at 4:27 PM, just before sending off my first query letter


Well, I’m not sure how much of a helpful message I can spell out in this entry. Most of my blog posts are tied to something about me, but I also try to incorporate useful opinions within the personal rambling. Tonight, though, I think I’m finally out of writing thoughts to share with the world. I hit the send on my query letter a few hours ago, and there isn’t really too much left to say on my part. I wait, hope to hear back in a few days, and prepare for the expected.

The expected is rejection, of course, but I’m not going to talk about that tonight. No doubt, once I’ve been verbally slapped with my first negative response, I’ll write a whole blog post dedicated to the feelings swirled around it. Right now, I’m just waiting, and it’s kind of hard to talk about that.

But, I’ll give it a shot.

In a minute, though. Right now, I want to talk about what it feels like to click the send on your query letter, in case anyone is curious but doesn’t want to try it for themselves.

It’s scary, for one thing. During my free period at school today, I combed the test email I sent myself last night. In that combing, I found a few tiny errors. Tiny as in wrong spacing, or a word that wasn’t doing any harm and could probably have stayed without any problems, but I decided the letter read better without it. I checked four separate times that I’d spelled the agent’s name correctly—an error that, unless I’m mistaken, still dominates the scoreboard for most notorious query-killer to date.

Then I got home, and it was time to hit send. Shortly beforehand, I wrote a small note in a journal my friend got me for Christmas. I hadn’t written in the journal yet because it was a part of a set using actual ink with a quill, which was awesome, and I wanted to save it for a good occasion.

Well, I figured today counted. Incidentally, I’m terrible at using a quill and ink.

By circumstance, one of my two Ideal Readers (remember them?) was over. I would’ve loved to hit the ‘send’ with both, but I figured there would be plenty of letters to be sent in the next few weeks. They’re still both my sword and shield, and they’re always with me as I charge into this mess of a battle.

My IR and I each gave the letter one last look, then—at 4:48 PM, according to Outlook—clicked the send. In two seconds, the cover letter to my five years of work was sitting in the inbox of my favorite agent in the country.

As I said, the experience is a tad scary.

There’s only one other thing I can think to cover in this blog post, since I’m assuming it’ll be my last one before I hear a response. That being, the indication of certain agent responses.

Here’s what I mean:

As I said in my Agent Process Told Through Memes post, there are three rounds you go through with an agent: they read your query, they read your partial, they read your full manuscript. I’d just like to list what I believe each of those stages to mean, as indication of someone’s skills as a writer.

  1. Round 1 complete: The agent likes your query and asks for your partial—I’d like to believe this indicates you’re a solid writer, with a story that has a solid concept. My hope is that I’ll get here eventually.
  2. Round 2 complete: The agent likes the partial and asks for the full—in my mind, this should be a huge step to reach, because it means you’re not only a solid writer with a solid concept, but your story is enough to keep a busy agent reading. I dream of getting here, at least.
  3. Round 3 complete: The agent likes the full and signs you on—if I ever get here, I’ll run through the streets screaming my freaking lungs out.

So, even if I only survive the first round, it means someone in the publishing business believes I have a solid concept and am a solid writer. All of this is subjective, of course, but I have to anchor my hopes on something, right? Why not on hope itself?

And of course, on everyone who helped me. To those who read my stories before they were manuscripts, then my first drafts, then those who listened when I thought I was done (and for telling me when I was).

Lao Tzu wrote, “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

And in the face of the scariest thing ever, what more could I ask for than that?