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An ounce of reality is worth a pound of sanity: 5 things I learned during my first trip down query

If you're looking for positive reinforcement for those query blues, stop reading now and check out all the other Stuart Smalley kinds of blogs. This one is written by a realist who wants new writers to know what to expect.

1. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

You may be the chosen one who gets a partial or full request from your first query, but the odds are not in your favor. More realistically, you'll join the rest of us in the query bunker, where you'll spend day and night, if you have that kind of time, researching agents and sending out queries. It's a physically and mentally exhausting grind.

2. Just because an agent says he's interested in a particular genre doesn't mean he really is.

Seriously, I read #MSWL religiously, followed agents' blogs, read their agent profiles, etc. etc., but the reality is that agents don't always practice what they preach. How do I know this? I also used the tools on the QueryTracker website to track the genres most requested by specific agents. Guess what? You're in for some mismatched socks, if you know what I mean.

3. Take Twitter with a grain of salt.

My heart stopped when I opened the first e-mail from an agent who requested a partial MS. Thereafter, I followed the agent on Twitter wondering if he'd post about the status of new or interesting projects. I waited months and months, and became excited when the agent tweeted that he'd made it to the bottom of his inbox. Imagine my surprise when I sent a gentle nudge after his tweet (and after waiting months for a scrap of information), only to have him respond that he was still working through his inbox. Oops. He should've known better.

4. Some agents are jerks.

There, I said it, or more aptly, wrote it. Many aspiring authors are too scared to state the obvious. I'm not. You'll receive cold and sometimes arrogant rejection e-mails. Your work isn't interesting enough to me...Or, you could wait months for a form rejection e-mail on a Sunday afternoon. I thoroughly enjoyed one of those. Mark those agents off of your list and move on.

5. Even though some agents say they respond to every query, they don't.

About 80-90% of the agents I queried who said they responded to every query didn't respond at all. Don't believe me? Check QueryTracker for the response stats and add your own, so writers know which agents are being honest. And if any agents are reading this, say what you mean and mean what you say. If you're too busy to respond to every query, that's fine. Be honest about it. Writers share information on their experiences with you.

Think these observations are bitter or negative? Nope. Just real. There are hundreds if not thousands of writer/bloggers who will tell you that the sun always shines on t.v. (if you're a fan of 80s music, you know this reference). It doesn't. If you're going to walk the query road, keep your eyes open, your head on a swivel, and your safety off.