Thursday, August 19, 2010

Is No News Good News?

First Queries Are Like First Love

As you send out your first query letters, all is right with the world. Optimism reigns supreme. You know the agent to whom you sent your query will love you forever.

Then reality sets in as the response to those queries begin to arrive. They don’t love you as much as you wanted them to. In fact, they don’t even like you. So don’t even mourn them. Let them go.

When I sent out my first batch of queries for the futuristic mystery I’d written. I did my homework and chose my agents carefully. I just knew some agent would fall in love with it. I was careful to enter each query onto the spreadsheet I’d created for the task of tracking who I’d sent the queries to. I certainly didn’t want to anger even a single agent by mistakenly sending my query to them twice. I’ve read their rants against authors who do that.

Every day for two weeks I added to the spreadsheet. I’d list the agency, the agent’s name, when I sent the query, and when I could expect a reply. Then I watched the spreadsheet like a hawk so I’d know when an answer should drop into my email box.

Some agents answered rather quickly, too quickly in my book. I dutifully filled in the word “Rejected” (in red) and the date I’d received the rejection notification. In a few cases, the agent didn’t bother sending even a form letter of rejection. The date I was expecting to hear from them came and went. I’d wait an extra day or two, and then typed in “Rejected.”

No News is Good News?

I began to wonder if no news is good news in the business of querying agents. It was hard to tell. Maybe the agents who weren’t responding were using silence as their means of rejecting my manuscript. But what if they weren’t, I asked myself over and over. What if they were letting my query and first few pages of the book marinate? Or sending it to someone else in their office?

Optimism and Pessimism at War

My optimistic side warred with my pessimistic side.

Optimistic me wanted it to be no news is good news and when I did hear from the agent in question, I’d be asked for the entire manuscript - always a good sign, right?

Pessimistic me, on the other hand, said that the silence only meant rejection by the agent who doesn’t care to send out a form rejection letter so I could put Rejected in the appropriate column of my spreadsheet with a date beside the awful word.

Good Old Optimistic Me

As I write this, I’m waiting for six more agents to respond to my query letter. This morning Optimistic Me is firmly in control and no news is good news is the order for the day.


  1. I find Oreo's help bring out the Optimistic me, or at least soothe the pessimistic me.