Yesterday, I attended a webinar called "What an Agent Really Thinks While Reading Queries: A Live Query-A-Thon with Literary Agents Kate McKean & Jim McCarthy." I figured that since I was querying for my YA paranormal fantasy novel and never had any luck before, it couldn't hurt.
I'm not exactly sure what I expected to gain from the webinar. I had hoped my query would be picked to be critiqued, but it wasn't. Part of me thought that maybe I would get some inside information, learn some tricks to stand out from the crowd, get a leg up by attending, but I didn't. I wasn't even inspired. In fact, I signed off feeling a little depressed.
Don't get me wrong, Kate McKean and Jim McCarthy were awesome! They explained exactly what they were looking for in queries, and when it came time to critique, they were very kind yet constructive. I learned a lot about what should/shouldn't be in a query, most of it I already knew, and I edited my recent query using the things they had said.
Still, I didn't feel super excited about what I had learned. Have you ever been to a writing workshop or conference and walked away wanting to write? Inspiration hits you in waves and you want nothing more than to dive into that next novel and not stop until it's finished. Forget eating, forget sleeping, forget human contact. You've got the desire to write! I guess I was kind of hoping to feel like that. I wanted to feel like the knowledge from taking the webinar was going to give me an edge.
Maybe it's just my jaded outlook. I hate the querying process. Hate it, hate it, hate it. It causes me a lot of stress and induces a little bit of panic. It's such a big publishing world out there, and there are thousands--if not millions--of people trying to break in. And it's so subjective. What one person likes, another absolutely hates. It's also a for-profit business, so agents want to make sure your work is going to make money. It's hard to stand out. It's hard to get a second look.
Still, it doesn't stop me from trying. And it definitely won't stop me from writing.
Even though the webinar depressed me a little, I'm glad I attended. If nothing else, I got to listen to some really awesome agents talk about their jobs and the query process. I'll continue to send out my query and keep my fingers crossed that someone somewhere will like it enough to ask for the manuscript. If that doesn't happen, there are other options.