Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Just plain querying still works

I'm curious. Rachelle Gardener said this in her December 10th blog post "Lone Ranger Writer" ( There are still stories of writers getting their agent through the query process, without ever networking or getting a referral or going to a conference. I thought querying was how most writers landed an agent. And unless networking includes critique partners and beta readers, surely not every writer needs to have networking, referrals or conferences to get an agent?

I was perplexed by this statement as well,  until I read the entire post.

Rachelle's point is that getting feedback (going to a conference, crit groups) is an important, if not essential, part of polishing your work to publication level.

I think she's right 98% of the time.
Most of my clients have some sort of beta reader system.

But a couple do not, and they're doing just fine.

And Rachelle isn't saying one size fits all here.

But she's not talking about querying requirements either. She's talking about polishing  your work.

You're quite right that most of us still get our clients from incoming queries.
Sure, there are conference finds, and referrals, but querying works.

But before you query, it really really helps if you get eyeballs other than your own on your work. If only to avoid homophones. My favorite this year is chic/sheik. The runner up is fey/fay.


KMK said...

Absolute wisdom from our Queen! No matter how great you are, a good beta reader will catch the things that spell check doesn't...and perhaps prevent you from being rejected because you had one word in the wrong place (yes, happened to me!). Queries are still the best game in town if you are an aspiring writer -- it's how I ultimately got my terrific agent, who got the deal for the book that's coming out in April. As the Shark says, Be Ready and keep at it!

Kitty said...

The runner up is fey/fay

Make that fey/fay/feh feh feh ;~)

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Chic/Sheik could especially be a stumbling block if one is writing a novel of haute couture in the 1920's!

This is reassuring, though. While I've heard tales of writers being approached by agents on the merits of their published short stories, this hasn't happened to me (yet!), so I'll be querying the old fashioned way. Which honestly I don't much mind; it's a slightly different set of timelines and expectations than short fiction submissions, and contains the dreaded synopsis and query letter, mais oui, but that's how it goes.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I almost fainted for a minute there. I do have beta readers and have attended conferences, workshops, the whole gambit. All in preparation for querying. I hope Her Majesty will be gentle when the time comes. I am scared excited and keep changing my mind about who to query and when. But yes, in the end, it comes down to querying most of the time I would guess.

JulieWeathers said...

On the Litforum, we are doing a Save The Cat Writes A Novel discussion and dissecting our works with the methods laid out in that torture chamber of a book. I may be bald by the time the process is done, but I think Rain Crow will be pretty shiny.

A good posse and support system is invaluable. I don't know how people get by without it.

Adding to the fey/fay, I'll add fae, which threw some beta readers for a loop.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

And to think that all this time I thought homophones were talking devices used by homosapiens.
I tried to come up with a clever gay telephone joke but whatever I wrote was way too middle school or presidential.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Janet please delete or just disregard my previous comment. My gay co-worker said it might be considered insensitive instead of amusing as a political comment. I knew I should have let him read it before I tapped send.

Linda Shantz said...

I'll often dictate notes to my phone when things come to mind as I do my stalls. I have a (horse) character named Chique, which inevitably translates to chic/sheikh. I also have a character named Faye, which gets a variety of weirdness. Apparently my phone thinks I talk funny.

MA Hudson said...

The beta readers I've found through this excellent community have been invaluable. They've not only picked up homophones, but pointed out areas that are confusing. With the entire story in our heads, it's hard to take a step back and read what's actually on the screen without our brains automatically filing in the gaps.