Query Hell, Part 2: Doubt

Before you go looking for it, there is no part one. I’m just a huge liar.

First of all, I feel bad that I’m using this blog for two purposes. I try to make each reading response for my senior seminar class as accessible as possible, but unless you’ve read what I’m responding to, it’s just going to be a lot of noise. However, you get to see me as a student, so that’s cool, right? (Insert sound of crickets, pins dropping, etc.)

Anyway, so I’ve been querying again, and when I say that, I really mean that I’ve rewritten my query letter obsessively and have reached out to less than a dozen agents. (Self-doubt, you old, evil bastard.) I signed up for a webinar on writing query letters, which is telling because I regard most webinars as scams. The damn thing cost $89 and, because I’m an overworked college student (see previous entries), I slept through it.

Yeah. That’s a thing that actually happened.

Not all is lost; the webinar is on-demand for anyone who paid for it, and payment entitles you to a written critique of your query by an actual agent. I mean, I guess that’s worth $89, but I’m also broke and wracked with unshakable doubt–not about my novel but about my query letter and querying in general. Who thought it was a good idea to use a glorified elevator speech as a way to get a literary agent? It’s like, I dunno… literary hazing.

(Realistically, I totally understand why it’s done this way, but I’m insolent right now.)

The twisted beauty of the situation is that I’m now so distracted that I don’t have time to torture myself about querying. For instance, it took eleven days for any agent from my last batch of queries to even get back to me. I hadn’t realized it had been that long because I had been so busy. (I did, however, realize it was a rejection, but I was too exhausted to dissect the letter a thirtieth time.) It’s lovely not to check email obsessively, waiting for those responses, but at the same time, my classes are already picking up and it’s week three. At this rate, querying will be an even slower process.

So, tl;dr version is that query letters scare me and I nap at inappropriate times.

For any of you writers out there, how have your query letters evolved over time? Do you find it ever gets easier?



  1. No. It never gets easier. It gets worse. It’s like a hamster wheel and at some point you’ll circle back to your original query. But, there must be some pituitary release upon the joy of finding requests for partials and fulls, because it kept me on the wheel for years.


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