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  • Kristina Elyse Butke

Out of the Querying Trenches


I man sits on the edge of a cliff, fist raised, at dawn -- out of the querying trenches
Photo by Ian Stauffer on Unsplash

I'm so delighted I'm able to give you this kind of update. Early December, I was contacted and offered representation from Rick Lewis at Martin Literary Management. I still had outstanding queries with other agents, so I was graciously given a 3-week period to wrap stuff up with them and see if other offers would be made. After all of that, I went ahead and signed with Rick. He was very enthusiastic about Son of the Siren and I got such a good feeling about working with him. He also has extensive experience as an editor and has ideas on how to make Son of the Siren even better. I had a wonderful time on Zoom with him and can't wait to start our business relationship. I really feel I have an advocate in my corner, and that's so important!


So...I started querying September 19, 2022, and I queried until November 20, 2022. I wrote my query letter during my Submission Coaching class and agent Amy Collins of Talcott Notch Agency gave it a lookover as part of my final project in the class, so I think that really helped me. I also consulted Margaret Rogerson's query letter for An Enchantment of Ravens as a model to help me write it, because I found it to be excellent (and I've actually read that book!).


Here are my stats, if you are curious:

  • 47 agents queried (after query withdrawals, 31 agents)

  • 5 full manuscripts sent

  • 0 partial manuscript requests (although some agents wanted the first three chapters with the original query)

  • 0 revise and resubmits

  • 30 rejections

  • 1 offer of representation

  • 14 queries withdrawn due to accepting representation, so technically no responses from them aside from some words of congratulations, which was extra nice

  • Most common rejection: "I'm not the right fit for your work"

  • Biggest ouch of a rejection: "Your pages didn't draw me in"/"I wasn't passionate about it"

  • Most consistent compliment: "Your work is intriguing"/"the writing is strong"

In hindsight, this all came together quite miraculously. I only had queries out for a few months, so this also happened a lot faster than I expected. But during the time I was querying, especially when I got nothing but rejections in a row, I started to doubt myself and rewrote my query letter, synopsis, and the first two pages of the manuscript.


I think my next step with Son of the Siren is to do some rewriting. I don't mind. This latest draft didn't have any eyes on it except for agents (no beta readers this time), so if there are things that can still be improved, I'm all for it.


There were a lot of ups and downs with this process. My emotions were all over the place, where I felt absolute joy with the highs of getting requests to the absolute lows of getting multiple rejections. I think I need to work on my coping skills, because ultimately I'm going to go through this again when the book gets pitched to publishers, and then when the book gets reviewed, people will either like it or they won't, so I'm going to have to accept continued rejection.


But this is a momentous, joyous occasion. I sometimes can't believe I've made it this far.


Onward and upward, friends! Thank you for your love and support!

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