Sunday, April 22, 2012

365 Days of the Query: Finding Time to Actually Query!

While I'm getting used to the new Blogger look (thanks, Google), I'm thinking about how we start out with the best intentions only to find out that nothing pans out as expected.

For example, before I started querying, I intended to send out about five or so queries a week. Reality struck, and there was only one week which I was actually able to accomplish this (it was a three-day weekend).

Here's what I've experienced since I started querying:
  • Queries always (always!) take way longer than I expect them to (accounting for customizing the query to meet the agent's needs, researching the agent, and updating my bio).
  • I've constantly been revising and tweaking my query in the process of sending it out. This also takes time I didn't account for (though it's absolutely necessary).
  • I have separate documents where I'm revising the various iterations of my query pitch  (must unite these into one document and decide which pitches I intend to use).
  • Queries aren't the only thing on my plate. Along with the full-time day job, I am responsible for the following:
    • Revising current WIP.
    • Drafting Book 2 of the series I'm querying (this idea has been sitting in moth balls for four years, desperately waiting to be written down).
    • Jotting down notes for shiny new book idea (with the hope to start shiny new book when WIP revisions are finished).
    • Tweaking the MS I'm querying to get rid of those nasty, stealthy typos (they're like ninjas!).
    • Book reviews (I'm currently working through a batch of five books).
    • Entering contests (most of which require a query and/or synopsis). 
    • Blogging (and I only do this twice a week! I can't imagine how all you daily bloggers out there do it!).
In light of all this, I've had to reassess how important it is for me to query right now. Part of me thinks I should build up my writing repertoire more (finish WIP, draft Book 2, complete shiny new book idea) before putting so much effort into the query, or entering contests. I'm seriously wondering if I'm approaching this in the smartest possible way I could be. Can any published authors out there attest to methods of dividing and conquering that you've found most effective? I also open up the conversation to my fellow aspiring writers: How do you divide your writing time? What organizational strategies have helped you streamline your efforts?


Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul said...

I work on my query in short bursts when I get some new input on it, or after an unsuccessful round of querying. I do my best to send out at least one new query to a new agent for every rejection I get. I'm usually too upset at having been rejected to do anything else for at least half an hour, anyway, so I funnel my disappointment into Revenge Querying! :)

I only have one current WIP, which is all my widdle brain can handle. I can't imagine working on two different stories at the same time, so that kind of helps. I tend to write the most between the time my daughter goes to bed and midnight. My husband is either asleep or at work, since he works night shift, so the house is quiet, and I can really focus.

I blog at least every other day, or whenever I have something to say. I don't have a schedule, which is probably irritating to anyone who tries to follow me, but such is life. When I have the time, I do it. I try to set aside at least fifteen minutes every other day to write there, though.

Otherwise, it's catch-as-catch-can. If I know I have an hour or two to write, I take advantage of it, to the detriment of my housekeeping, my family's nutritional needs, and general organization.

The Writer Librarian said...

Laura--great tips--thanks for allowing insight into your workload! Congrats again on being a finalist in the Liz Norris contest. Part of the reason I decided to work on another story is that it was burning in my brain (and I was concerned my other completed novel wouldn't be as marketable)--guess that will teach me not to delve into a million WIPs at once!

Eliza Green said...

I find it healthy to work on other ideas and take a break from the WIP. Sometimes I need to get going on other ideas while they're fresh. Whether its the next book or a completely different one, its like a holiday/vacation for my brain!
If I'm querying, my MS and synopsis are finished with a capital F! If I keep changing something around, it means that its not ready for others to see. When I stop, I query.
I query in batches. If it doesn't work out with some, then I try again with another group. I try not to change my MS and synopsis unless there are glaring mistakes.
I can only manage to blog once a week. I don't have time for book reviews unfortunately and competitions are an extension of queries in my eyes. Because I also work full time, I have to prioritise what I need to get done. i would love to do more, but my writing is the most important element of my week (spare time). Social media is secondary but pretty important too.

The Writer Librarian said...

Thanks, Eliza--I'm tweaking my query pitch in prep for a conference, and plan to do one more contest, but will probably take a break after that to continue writing and producing material...I plan to tweak my ms based on feedback from an agent--I see my work as changeable/malleable and need to figure out when things are capital F Finished.