Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Watcha Say Wednesdays: Query Letter Rituals

Sending out query letters is a very stressful part of writing. If I am emailing the letter, I stare at the page for a while - rereading and rereading - and then after taking a deep breath, I hit send. If I mail the letter, I stand, hovering the envelope over the drop box and try to channel positive energy into the envelope. Silly, I know, but, hey. But as I am walking away, I tell myself - I did all that I could and now it is up to someone else. But, it got me thinking-- Am I doing enough? Should I have a special chant? A special pair of magic query shoes?

When I receive a letter back, I prepare myself for the no. So if it is a no, I'm not surprised but if I get a beautiful partial request - I am ecstatic. But with each closed door, I open a new one by mailing out a new letter. I once met a published author, who said she would pour a glass of wine and curl up in her favorite chair to read her letters. I don't have that much patience. I rip them open, close my eyes for a brief second, and read it right away. 

So, for this week's Watcha Say Wednesday, I ask you - What are your query letter rituals? Do you have a certain day that you send out query letters? Do you get a "no" and then send out a new letter? Do you say a serenity prayer or burn incense? How 'bout them magic query shoes, or shirt, or under britches?

What about when you receive a response from an agent? Do you read it right away, or let them accumulate? Do you only open them in a certain chair, at a specific time? Do you lie down on the floor so that you don't hurt yourself if you faint?

Answer what speaks to you, and ignore the rest. But do tell, I'm quite curious.


  1. I don't really have any rituals. I mean, yes, I read over the letter before hitting send to make sure I have spelled names right, included contact information...etc. But when i received letters, I open them within seconds. :)

  2. I'm not at that stage yet, but I think experiencing five minutes of blind panic will become ritual real fast!

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  4. I just ripped them open, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath before reading.

  5. i haven't done queries yet, but i have submitted shorts and it's much the same thing.
    I try to prepare for the rejection, but i can't quite quash that part of me that gets excited and thinks "This is the one"

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  7. I like to pee on them.. mark the SASE with my scent if you will, that way I know what it is without having to read it.

    I'm going to start queying for "Mend" soon... so I need to start drinking more water, or beer, or both.

    Good for you [that you are querying]! Sorry I've been a slacker with the AWA. Been swamped...

  8. I have no ritual of sending other than to obsess about the letter. When I get a rejection, I feel quite bad, and tell myself that I'm awful, I have no business even querying, but then after that I get over it and realize it's just one, and I keep trying. I spend a fair amount of time being envious of other successful writers who clearly are doing things right and I can't figure out what it is, and then I blog and I think "That wasn't a bad post" and then the next day no one comments and I go "Oh, I guess it it me? It must be me...I'm doing something that people find repulsive. I just wish I knew what it was." And then I read other blogs and I pretend to work and I drink coffee and then I think about getting back to writing a story all the while thinking, "Why bother? You'll never..." and then I realize "you'll never" talk is exactly what I dislike and exactly what I should not be saying, and then I think about The Secret and I think, well, I could positive-think my way to a partial and full request, that's what I'll do! And then I get on twitter and promptly forget everything.

  9. All my query letters have been emails. I squint at the page, let a smaller amount of disappointment creep into view. Wincing.