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  • Kristina Elyse Butke

In the Querying Trenches


Red envelope on yellow background - IN THE QUERYING TRENCHES
Photo by Lucas George Wendt on Unsplash

I have finally stopped revising Son of the Siren. It took several months, (although I took time off in July and August on account of moving from Japan to the USA), but at last I've come to a draft that I think addresses major criticisms from beta readers while also being something I'm happy with. I have since learned, after all the eyes being on my MS, that I'm not going to be able to please everyone, and everything is incredibly subjective, and I'm always going to have conflicting feedback. So it came down to me rereading the book for the billionth time, and going, "This isn't bad. I think I've got it," and deciding to roll with it.


The book's first draft was at about 79,000 words. This latest draft (it's either the fifth or sixth) clocks in at 86,562 words. And I made a lot of changes. I added new scenes and new characters. I made my fae more morally ambiguous. I altered the antagonist's personality a little and made her less disturbing...in fact, in terms of disturbing content, I eliminated a lot of it. And in doing so, I think I can classify the book as Upper YA/crossover with NA.


To prepare for the eventual querying, I took a class from Writer's Digest University called "Submission Coaching," which was taught by Amy Collins at Talcott Notch Agency. It was a complete eye-opener. We not only put together our query letters, but we developed pitches of varying lengths, created author biographies and profiles, created book proposals, and researched comp titles and current competing works in our genres. It really opened my eyes to viewing publishing as a hardcore business.


So I've had to switch from thinking about my book as an artistic contribution and more of a product to be consumed...and that's been a little difficult. But the course has helped me ease into a more business mindset, which has been helpful with querying.


I started querying the book September 19. I originally had a list of agents from my Submission Coaching course, but most of them were closed to subs at this time, so I've had to do more research into finding agents that are open. It's an ongoing process.


And I'm pretty nervous about all of this, to be honest. I observe a lot through Book Twitter and the consensus is that querying is really hard right now, for agents and for writers. one of my writing buddies pointed out, "lots of people wrote books during the pandemic." People are swamped.


So far I'm seeing response times vary from six weeks to two months, but I've heard horror stories from writers saying their rejections came back to them over a year after they submitted.


I foresee this being a real emotional test for me. One, I have difficulty waiting, so the lengthy silences between submissions and responses are going to be a test of my patience. But probably the bigger issue I see is my ability to handle rejection. My manuscript will be rejected by agents. This is a given. From beta reading I learned that the book just isn't for everyone, so the same thing will be true of agents. But the 100+ rejections I hear authors racking up? I don't know if my heart can bear that. I'm such a sensitive person, but I need to get used to being told "no thanks," and prepare myself to hear it a lot.


I wish I can say I'm excited to query, but the pervasive feeling is more of fear. However, I should be proud of myself that I've finally reached this point in the long writing journey.


Please wish me luck as I embark on this huge undertaking! As always, thank you for your support!