I’ve been thinking about this process, the querying process. I realize that many writers find this task utterly daunting because of the many (and basically guaranteed) opportunities for “rejection”. Yes, rejection in quotes.
I decided to look at the query as a kind of reverse interview. Let’s say you are a manager at a restaurant for example. You post a sign in the window or a link on the website: “Now Hiring”. People come to you, applications filled out, requesting interviews. You grant them. You talk to several people, assessing their qualities, gauging whether or not they can be an asset to your company, your team. If yes, then you hire, if not, then you don’t. Rather simple. Not personal. You hire the person you think will be the best fit, not because you didn’t like the others, but they weren’t exactly what you are looking for in an employee.
In the query process, the writer with the manuscript is the manager with the opening, not the hopeful person looking for a job. The query is the author’s “Now Hiring” sign. Granted, the author has to send out individual queries, which is about the equivalent of the manager going door to door with a job description, asking potential employees one by one if they would like the job. When the person you query says no, it isn’t a rejection. It is an employee saying, “I’m not right for this job.” It is an agent looking at the job description, and telling you they are not the right fit.
The goal is not just to find an agent/publisher/employee, but the right one, the one that fits. If you’ve done the work as a writer, you’ve got an opening for a job that’s solid, a job that someone out there wants. And once someone wants it, you still are the one who decides whether or not to hire.
Thinking about the process this way is what gives me the courage to close my eyes and click “send”. If an agent doesn’t want the job, it is not personal. It’s not about the job, it’s about the fit.