A short (and late) post today to emphasize one key thing for the querying writer:
Get that query critiqued.
However good you think it is, your query can ALWAYS improve. Always. I guarantee it. And the only way it’s going to improve is through fresh eyes. I see potential in other queries that I can’t find in my own. I’ll think my query is just fine until feedback makes me realize how much I needed that critique.
Since it’s not easy to get critiques — especially much-needed ones — I’m going to emphasize one more key thing.
When you receive a critique, you should allow yourself time to go through the grieving process. I’m not kidding. You may be angry and/or reactive the first time you read someone else’s comments. That’s okay. But don’t act on that anger. Let it rest. Give it time to sit. Do something else.
Same goes for feeling insecure about yourself as a writer after receiving a critique. It wasn’t given with malicious intent (or if it was, stay far away from that person). It wasn’t given to make you feel small. It was given to help, to support, to lift your writing to the level they know it can reach. (I don’t say this because I’ve conquered this issue. I say it because I’m still struggling with it.)
And then revisit those comments. Think about them like you would a critique you’d given someone else. Sure, the person might not have gotten everything right. You’re the writer; you deserve the first and last say in your own words. But they may point out something you never would have seen. And even if you disagree with the way they suggest you solve some problem, the fact that they identified that problem is important, and you should address it.
The querying process is a rough roller coaster ride. But keep trying, keep writing, keep querying project after project and harness the talent and insight of a community of writers.
I honestly believe learning how to write better (and how to pitch better) isn’t a waste of time.