In Deb Kerry’s World, Sometimes You Get Lucky

Queries.

Ah, I have such fond memories of the query process. Formulating a hook. Trying to cram all of the important story elements into a paragraph so perfectly written that any agent could see this was the best and most wonderful book ever, an absolute must read. Such wonderful productive hours reading websites and databases to research agents, their wants, their likes and dislikes, what genres interested them, how they wanted their queries formatted.

And then, when all of the dutiful research was done, the thrill of pushing the send button and launching that marvelous query out into the unknown. Followed, obviously, by a swarm of requests. Oh the enthusiasm, the positive comments, the elevation of my self esteem –

Wait. “Scratch that, reverse that,” as Willy Wonka said.

Truth: I suck at queries. Big time.

The thrill that went with pushing the send button was one of terror. Most of the responses that popped up in my email from agents said, quite politely and formulaically, “No thank you.” Occasional requests for partials and fulls all led to dead ends. There were some tears on my end, some moments of despair. In fact, at the time when my luck changed, I was about ready to give up on Between. I’d already revised it several times since beginning the query process. It was a good book, I thought, but maybe it would have to wait. Maybe another book would be the one to make the breakthrough and it was time to move on.

And then serendipity intervened. Between caught the interest of an editor who was keeping an eye on Book Country, where I had posted the first couple of chapters. Within the course of a week I went from querying-hopeful to agented-with-a-publishing-deal.

As it turns out, chances are good that my wonderful agent, Deidre Knight, and I would have hooked up eventually. She had read the chapters of Between on Book Country too, and liked it. In fact, I’d been invited to query her but the query got lost somehow in transition. I’m glad we connected when we did, and I’m so grateful to have her experienced, kind, guiding hand on my career. She is the perfect agent for me. Looking back now, I’m glad everybody else said no. I truly believe that Between and I are precisely where we need to be.

For anybody out there who might be querying, I’m not much for advice in the query department. It was not my forte. But this one thing I can tell you

Don’t quit. If you truly have given querying your best shot with one book and haven’t found your agent, then try again with another. Don’t give up. Because sometimes, when you work really, really hard, you get lucky.

I know, because it happened to me.

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12 thoughts on “In Deb Kerry’s World, Sometimes You Get Lucky

  1. Kerry, you are so right–the best advice in querying is to NOT QUIT. I think too that while some agent-writer relationships form on the first query, the process can also take a long time for others of us so sometimes it’s important to think of the relationship as one that is built over time. Which is why it’s crucial to keep good records of who you’ve queried and their responses. If an agent offers to see your next project, be encouraged–and follow that offer up!

    • Erika – keeping those good records is smart for a lot of reasons, I think. Making note of likes and dislikes, whose style (even in rejection) you best think fits with yours, agents that you can clearly see live on a different planet and would never be a match. Also, I do think it’s profoundly true about building those relationships over time. Patience is so important. And so hard to manage!

    • LOL. Yay on the book deal. Funny how a good thing like that shakes everything up, though. Best of luck with the Agent Radar System. I hope you find yours quickly.

  2. Such great advice, Kerry! This is a great way to lead off our “query week.” I didn’t like the query process much either – and, like you, I had an unusual end to my story (more on that Thursday…). The key, though, is exactly what you said – it’s about hanging in there, having faith (or possibly obstinacy, or both), and keeping yourself in the game until your time comes around!

  3. I love hearing stories about authors that got agents/book deals in unique ways. I’m going to have to go check out Book Country now. The query process can be difficult at times… but you’re right, you can’t give up or else you won’t ever get anywhere. Great advice and post 🙂

    • Thanks, JQ! And yes – check out Book Country. It’s a great site for lots of reasons, and Michael Underwood was acquired there too. Plus, I know of at least one other person whose agent found her there!

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