Purple Prose + voice

Querying Paralysis

Two weeks ago, I started querying my YA contemporary novel, Still. Things started off well. Within two days, I landed a partial request (I already had a full out).

Naturally, I did this:

But I'd also submitted my query to Agent Mailbox on a website for YA writers.

If your query and first 250 words are accepted, it goes to a panel of ten agents. It’s faster than going the regular channels, plus you get feedback from the site administer and her assistant. The assistant had already given me her feedback so I confidently fired off the query that landed me the request.

But the site administer felt the query could be improved. I worked on it, and took it to my local RWA meeting (Romance Writers of America) for query night. And boy did I get some bad advice, as well as a few good suggestions. After that, one of my friends had a go at it. As did someone else. Before I knew it, I'd completely lost confidence in my query because it never seemed to be right. And it didn’t help that during this, it had lost my main character’s voice. The thing that’s vital in your query.

I was ready to give up. I had become paralyzed by fear. Fear that agents would find something wrong with it. Fear that I would send it out, only for someone to come up with a better version which might garner me a request instead of a rejection.

A few days later, after reposting the shiny new query on Agent Mailbox, the site administer critted it but there was one major problem based on my hook (which was pretty much the same hook as before):

Most seventeen-year-olds struggle to keep secrets, but if Calleigh screws up, her best friend is dead.

According to the individual, the death of the best friend wasn’t a big enough stake. It should be a family member. Huh? I was positive this line indicated the type of person Calleigh is and the strength of the friendship. Alejandra’s like a sister to Calleigh.

Several hours after this, I landed a request from my old query. I send out the new one, and landed another request.

Apparently, four agents didn’t share the individual’s opinion. Why? Because they didn’t read it using adult logic (like the critter did). They used teen logic. Plus, what's important to a teen, might not be as important to an adult. If the book was about a forty year old, then the potential death of the wife and kids would be a better choice.

Well, let’s just say I'm now cured of Querying Paralysis (I just have to drag myself from my new WIP to send out more queries).

Has anyone else had to deal with Querying Paralysis, and what did you do to overcome it (or maybe you haven’t)?

best, book, conflict, L — Logic, Novel, query, and more:

Querying Paralysis + voice