I just hit Send on my fourth agent query. At the precise moment my finger depressed the key on my computer, I wanted to whip my hand back and take another look. What if I hadn't done something the agent expressly mentioned on their website? What if I had a typo? An embarrassing grammatical gaffe? What if it wasn't good enough—first impressions and all that.
And then there's this . . . (shhh, don't tell anyone), but even though that manuscript, that story, is pretty good, the one I'm working on now? Well, there's no comparison. It makes me almost want to apologize. But the thing is? My plan is that every manuscript I write will be better than the one that preceded it.
Some of you aren't to the querying stage yet, others of you are long past it. But I'm pretty sure you can remember the veil of angst and doubt that poured over you when you began.
Have you ever considered that if God had let you in on some of the things that were going to happen in your life you'd be tempted to abdicate? I mean, yeah, the good things? Bring them on. And tell me about them from the get-go. I live for those off-the-charts moments of incredulity and awe. Giggles are good. Guffaws are better.
But the vulnerable moments? The times when you feel like you are the silhouette on the target at the firing range? The times when you go from safe and nameless and never-before-rejected to publicly asking to be shot down? Enter the query stage.
Sorry if I'm bursting the bubbles of anyone who thinks that just because they finish the thing there's an automatic bump to publication. I guess one of the reasons I'm here is to put a little dose of reality into your lives, as unwelcome as it might be.
Be proud that you finished a manuscript. That alone puts you into an elite group of people. But now, you have to suck it up and turn your heart away from creativity to business. Not always and easy thing to do.
I've learned, in the last few days, that I need to psyche myself up to putting the query in the mailbox, or hitting the Send button. It's all a process.
And James Scott Bell once said that every time we move a step up the ladder is a good thing. Even better? He assures me I can't go backwards.
Can you relate?
CR: Caught by Harlan Coben.
It's all better with friends.