We talk a lot about getting your manuscript polished for querying, but we all know that querying is an emotionally taxing business, so I think it's important that you're in the right headspace before beginning. To that end, here is a quiz to help you figure that out.
You've written the first draft of your query and posted it online for feedback. One person responds with a note at the end that, "You should probably rewrite this from scratch." Do you:
Respond with a series of posts insisting they don't know what they're talking about, no one here knows what they're talking about, and you never asked them to critique their grammar anyway, so why are they doing that?
Burst into tears. You worked so hard on this query and it was all for nothing!
Take a moment to process their feedback, thank them for their time and thoughts, and go back to the drawing board for draft 2.
The query's all set, time to send it to some agents. Best if you personalize it a bit, though. How do you start your query?
"I am giving you the opportunity to work with me, as other agents are too unsophisticated and don't appreciate my brilliance. You will quickly realize that I am much better than the mediocre 'writers' you currently work with."
"I'm really sorry to bother you, and I hope I'm not an inconvenience, so please don't be mad at me, but if you could, I was hoping that at some point when you're not too busy you could maybe look at my query."
"Based off your Manuscript Wishlist interests, I believe you would be a good fit for my manuscript."
Bummer, you just got your first rejection. Do you:
Hop onto Twitter and send out a series of vicious tweets, explaining how the agent is an unprofessional hack who wouldn't know great art if it punched them in the face.
Curl up in a corner and cry. That's it. Time to give up.
Recognize that this is nothing personal and that chances are you will need to deal with a lot of rejection, so you double check that your query and pages are how you want them and send out to a new agent.
Great news, the query did its job and an agent asked for pages. It's been a week of anxious waiting. Is your next step to:
Repeatedly email the agent, reminding them that they've had your pages for plenty of time to read it several times over, so why is this taking so long?
Gnaw off your hand in your anxiety.
Recognize that agents are busy people with lots of things to work on, and a week is no time at all yet. Better to do your research on the agent's website and Query Tracker to find their usual response times on requested material, and if you find nothing on that know that you still should wait at least six weeks before giving them a nudge.
Congratulations, you've received an offer of rep! Do you:
Send emails to the agents who previously rejected you, rubbing it in their faces that they were too stupid to appreciate you.
Tearfully tell the agent that you're not worthy of their attention, and go live in the woods to commune with the butterflies.
Research what you should expect and ask about during the Call, and as a professional courtesy alert any agents who still have your query or materials so they have a chance to respond before you commit to an agent.
Gatekeepers doing their hardest to keep hardworking writers from letting their brilliance show. They probably laugh among themselves whenever they send out a rejection letter, and enjoy arbitrarily blacklisting you so that no agent will take you on.
Mystifying higher beings who possess untold powers that can either destroy you or bestow your heart's desire.
People just trying to do a job the best they can, with a passion for books and helping people achieve their goals.
Time to tally up you score.
If you mostly picked a:
Someone has to break it to you: you're a narcissist and a jerk. Please stop querying. Seriously, just stop. No agent is going to work with you with your attitude, and in the meantime you're ruining things for the rest of us.
If you mostly picked b:
Are you okay? Please take a deep breath. I know how important this is, but at the same time, it isn't life or death. You might not be ready to start querying yet. Make sure you surround yourself with a support system of family and friends, and don't be afraid to reach out on this site as well. Everyone here is either starting querying, in the middle of querying, or has been through the process. We can sympathize. Also, please remember that chewing off your hand is only going to make it harder to write.
If you mostly picked c:
Congrats, you're ready to query. You understand that agents are human, just like the rest of us, and that this may end up being a long, arduous process, but you have hope that the reward will be worth it. Keep that balance of optimism and realism in your pocket at all times, and don't be afraid to reach out when you need to.
If you mostly picked d:
You're not ready to query because your critical reading skills are lacking. If you can't do this quiz properly, then you're not going to be able to follow an agent's submission requirements.