Organizing Query Research: Part Two

So, I finally got up the nerve to go through my Rejection Collection, and this is what I came up with:

Small stack of index cards next to enormous stack.

The last project I queried was a thriller, and I really wasn’t envisioning myself writing outside that genre, back then, so my priorities were different. A lot of the people I wrote to were very focused on that genre, so they wouldn’t be interested in my new project.

Last time, I also wound up deciding the project needed more work, so I stopped well before I made it through every agent and agency in the universe.

So, all said and done, there were about fifteen repeaters in the Rejection Collection. Eleven of those are in the picture above. (The big stack is about 150 people deep, right now. )

Going through the Rejection Collection wasn’t bad. Actually, it was kinda… well, I enjoyed it. I recommend it, even if you aren’t actively querying a new project.

Why You Should Revisit Your Rejection Collection

  • It’s easier to see progress after the emotions cool. During submission, you’re frequently collecting rejection after rejection. After a while, you just want to shove that letter in a box and get on with it. You don’t always see how many of the letters were personalized, or the rate of requests as you’re doing it.
  • It’s not me, it’s them. My last querying marathon ended a little over a year ago. I’ve done other things, and so have a lot of the people on my list. It’s one thing to know objectively that not every rejection is about you, the quality of your writing, and the volume of blood spatter in chapter 7, it’s another to look back and actually seeĀ the number of people who have–for their own personal reasons–switched agencies, switched jobs, quit publishing. Because–**Happy Dance**–you really can’t represent my book, if you’ve run off to teach the poor, starving orphans to read.
  • What worked… and what didn’t. I’m not organizing in quite the same way, and a lot more casual in my approach. I don’t have actual numbers to support this, but Dear Joe appears to work better than Dear Mighty and Illustrious Sir.
  • Ego Boost: Believe it or not, some of those agents took the time to say some really nice things to me, even though they were clearly busy packing for that trip to the convent/orphanage/wild boar hunt in Macedonia.
  • Regain Faith in the People in Publishing Sometimes…. every now and then… the dedication and passion show through. My favorite, favorite, favorite rejection letter is just three words, handwritten on my letter. Not for me. And the handwriting is shaky. Little bit of old age, little bit of a tremor. You can tell she’s making an effort. It’s getting hard for her. But she’s still there. And she’s still answering queries. And she wouldn’t have to be.

Back to organization.

The people I’ve queried before are color-coded (pale turquoise ink, not that anyone cares). And now they’re getting re-shuffled into their appropriate sub-piles. Well, not shuffled. They’re actually a little closer to the top of their sub-piles than they would otherwise be, since they get points for being at the top of the last pile. Relevant notes from last time are color coded that same turquoise.

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