Picking an Agent

Author’s Note: This was originally part of my Pitch Wars reflection blog but it got WAY too unwieldly and off-topic, so I split it into a separate post that was more targeted. Hopefully.

Content warning: This post discusses offer calls and how to prepare for them, as well as some (non-confidential things) related to my offer.

Disclaimer: Any links or recommendations made by me are my opinion and are not paid endorsements.

There is so much about querying I wish I’d known before I was in the thick of it. Particularly about agents and how to choose one. You know, the whole point of querying. I mean, I queried for FIVE years, and I had no idea what I was doing until Pitch Wars. Maybe not even then, honestly. I thought I knew what I was doing. Until I watched a whole bunch of other people do it and realized nope, I did not have this right.

So, I wrote this post for anyone who, like me, thinks they know what they’re doing but perhaps could stand to learn a bit more. Or for anyone who has questions they’re too afraid to ask (also me, yeah). This isn’t intended to answer every question about publishing and agents that ever was, because wow, that would be even longer than I imagine this will end up being, but I will try to answer the questions I had in hopes they might help someone else. Also, there will be no querying advice AT ALL because as I’ve mentioned repeatedly my query stats are shit. Please head on over to literally anywhere besides here for tips on writing query letters, synopses, pitches, etc.

Step One: Building Your List

Okay, so you wrote a book! Congratulations! Take time to celebrate, it’s a big achievement! You edited it! Celebrate again! You wrote a query letter! Do a dance! You rewrote your query letter for the 982nd time? That is totally normal and fine, please point yourself in the direction of the nearest piece of cake. You earned it. Now, you’re ready to query. Meaning it’s time to build your list of potential agents.

Photo of a white woman in a black jacket, back to the camera, standing in front of a stone wall with a long list of names inscribed on it.
I once described finding agents as finding rare gems in a forest. Ooh, look, a shiny! Oh, look, another I missed! Because it can really feel like picking truffles at some point. Photo by Milena Trifonova on Unsplash

Assembling Agents

Man, when I did this the first time… well, we aren’t talking about that. First thing’s first. Sign up for Querytracker. It’s free. There’s a premium version too that’s $25 a year and offers some really cool features, but if you can’t swing it, that’s totally fine. The free version is also super helpful. You might also want to start an Excel spreadsheet that tracks information similar to what you’ll find on Querytracker (adding additional columns for more information that might be important to you). Because also, fun fact, there are agents who aren’t on Querytracker (not many, but they do exist).

Querytracker will help you narrow agents down by the genre you write in. That isn’t 100% accurate, but it’s a good start and does a huge lift for you, so it’s where I would start if you’re starting from zero. You’ll probably get a ton of results. Take a breath. Hydrate. Stretch. You’re going to be here awhile. Building a list is kind of a bitch.


Agent Research

Are you neurodiverse? Cool, me, too. This could swing probably one of two ways for you in particular. You’ll either find it super fun and fall down the rabbit hole forever, or you’re going to get super fucking frustrated really fast. It might switch with the day. Brains, right? Self-care. Medicate if you do that. Chunk out your time but also remember you do not have to attack this all at one time. Just one agent at a time.

Here’s the part where I got irritated as a neurodiverse author who does NOT like agent research. The next step of this process on a lot of blogs/writing advice platforms/Twitter feeds what have you skip right from Querytracker list to: What’s on their manuscript wishlist? What’s on their anti-manuscript wishlist? What do their sales look like? Do they sell to imprints/editors you want your book sold to? Are they from a reputable agency? How long have they been doing this? If not long, who is their mentor? Is there anything about them or their agency that’s a “red flag?”

At this point my brain started to look something like this:

Image of an open book on fire.
I mean, who needs to publish, anyway? I can just like… crawl back into my bed and make a blanket fort until someone brings me a snack, right? Because there’s absolutely no fucking way I am figuring all that out on my own. Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Where to Find Things About Agents

For my overwhelmed querying friends, neurodiverse or otherwise, I am here to tell you WHERE to find all this mystery information. Sort of. Sadly, the information is not uniform so there isn’t a real cut and dry answer, but I’m going to try:

  • Manuscript Wishlists (“MSWLs”) and Anti-Manuscript Wishlists (“Anti-MSWLs”) can be found most often on either (a) the agency’s website under the agent’s biography; (b) the agent’s personal website (often linked to on their agent page on their agency’s website); or (c) The Official Manuscript Wishlist SPECIAL NOTE: Sometimes, additional information about what the agent is currently accepting can be found on the agent’s Query Manager site if they use one, so it’s not a terrible idea to try checking that before you go down a rabbit hole of research. I have heard many a querying author bemoan doing loads of research only to go to Query Manager to upload their query and find a note at the top from the agent that says *NOT CURRENTLY ACCEPTING [YOUR GENRE]* despite everything else the agent’s MSWL’s elsewhere say. Also make sure to check the drop down menu to see if your genre and age group is listed! So, consider yourself duly forewarned.
  • Sales Information (Agent and Agency) can be found on Publisher’s Marketplace. This includes the agent’s sales and the agency’s sales, and it will show you who the agent/agency are selling to (editors and imprints). PROBLEM. This information, while really helpful, is self-reported, so not always up-to-date or entirely accurate, AND it can only be accessed with a paid subscription to Publisher’s Marketplace (PM) which is quite expensive (I believe it’s about $25 a month). The good news is you can pay monthly and cancel at any time.
  • Reputation and Red Flag Information is harder because this is usually accessed via the “Whisper Network” or by doing some serious sleuthing into the deep dark places on Twitter. You can, however, find some very good information on Writer Beware and its companion Writer Beware Blog (which can at least help you avoid vanity presses and scams). Unfortunately, these resources don’t usually have the latest industry “tea” regarding literary agencies. Comments on Querytracker can often lead you in the right direction on this front and many authors on Twitter are very willing to talk privately as long as you maintain that privacy (going back to my earlier post on community).

So, after all this, what you should end up with is a list of agents (or the start of one, it doesn’t have to be every single one you’re going to query, just some to get your feet wet maybe), that meet some basic criteria. The criteria will differ based on every author and their goals but in general, your group of shiny gem agents should all have some things in common:

  1. They accept submissions for your age group and genre
  2. Your book sounds like something sort of close to something on their manuscript wishlist
  3. It doesn’t sound like something on their anti-manuscript wishlist (if they have one)
  4. Their sales are in line with your goals as an author (i.e. they’re selling the kinds of books you write to the kinds of editors/imprints you’d like to publish your books)
  5. If they’re a new agent and don’t have sales yet, their agency is doing number 4
  6. SUBJECTIVE: Either the (a) agency has been around awhile with a good history of sales or (b) the agent has been around awhile with a good history of sales (this doesn’t HAVE to be the case for you, new agencies with new agents are a thing, they’re just a riskier than I’m willing to do thing, but that’s a personal preference)
  7. SUBJECTIVE: There’s nothing about them or their agency you’ve heard or learned that makes you uncomfy or makes you feel they wouldn’t be a good potential lifelong business partner FOR YOU (totally different for different people)

But what about my Dream Agent, i.e. the One Who Says Yes?

But Aimee, you haven’t addressed the most important criteria: will they say yes to me?

“My dream agent is the one who says yes.” I see this so frequently on Twitter these days it actually makes me wince a little to put it here. Because I get it. Truly. And I know, querying writers, you’re like no, Aimee, you don’t. You have an agent. You have your yes. You can fuck right off into the sunset with your I get it. And I get that, too. I was there for five years with like exactly five requests to my name in that entire time. At one point I told a friend of mine that I would make my main character a two-headed dolphin if it meant getting into Pitch Wars. But getting into Pitch Wars actually taught me how wrong I was. The yes isn’t the dream. Sharing a vision is.

So, sorry to have to be the bearer of bad news, but no. Your dream agent is absolutely not the one who says yes. I mean, listen, your dream agent COULD in fact be the one who says yes. But not BECAUSE they say yes. Because they share your vision and meet all your objective criteria which you laid out while building your list.

Photo of a mountain lion against a black backdrop bursting a bubble with its teeth.
Oh, look, it’s me. The asshole cat bursting your bubble. WITH MY TEETH. Sorry. Truly. It sucks in every way. But you know what would suck more? Having to do this shit multiple times because you just went with whatever yes. Image by Willgard Krause from Pixabay

While much of the old query advice can be thrown out, the adage that a bad agent is worse than no agent remains true. “Bad” agent is also an agent who is “bad” for you. There are tons of agents out there who hit all the right “boxes.” Who have great sales, come from a reputable agency that’s well known, who have impressive client lists, and great references, who represent your heroes, who might even give you a yes and can still be a bad fit for you.

Huh? But you just said… and the list… and… I KNOW! THIS IS WHY IT IS ANNOYING AND CONFUSING. Onward!

Step 2: Preparing for The Call™

You got an email to set up a call! Hooray! BUY YOURSELF A WHOLE DAMN CAKE! I’ll wait.

Photo of a blue cake with gold decorations on top of which is a glass slipper, all set upon a white cloth.
I did, in fact, buy myself a whole damn cake. Five years, I think I deserved it, thanks. Copyright mine. Cake made by these lovely people: https://clarascustomcakes.com/

It’s time to prepare for The Call™. Okay, first, a disclaimer. Hopefully, the purpose of the call was laid out for you in the email scheduling it, but if it wasn’t, I will forewarn you that not all calls with agents lead to offers. This is something I learned during Pitch Wars that SHOCKED me. So if you, like me, wandered around in the querying darkness for many years before now, please know that sometimes agents call to… reject you. Which is weird. They also sometimes call to explain to you a R&R. More rare still, they intend to offer then something goes sideways on the call and an offer doesn’t actually happen.

BUT, before too much panic happens, please know that most calls are in fact THOSE calls.

The Standard Lists

Now, there are loads of resources, blogs, lists, etc. circulating about what questions you should ask on The Call. The most popular one is probably Jim McCarthy’s which you can find here. From what I’ve heard from my friends’ calls, of which I’ve been fortunate enough to hear about many (and in my personal experience), most agents will answer like 95% of these questions without you having to ask, because they know these lists exist. That’s a green flag if they just start answering them, as an FYI.

To be clear, I am 100% supportive of having these lists prepared. I used one myself. That’s a great base, I just am not going to spend time recreating the wheel when others have done it better. What I want to talk about is the shit not on these lists. The things that might help you better suss out not what makes an agent a schmagent or a bad agent but a bad fit FOR YOU.

Photo of white hands backlit trying to put two puzzle pieces together.
Do we go together? The Call is basically your best chance to find out. Photo by Vardan Papikyan on Unsplash

The Nonstandard List

Okay, this is where it starts getting a little dicey, because all of this is immensely personal. So, take everything I’m about to say with like 1,000 grains of salt. I don’t want anyone to come back to me like, “Aimee, I gave up my yes because of something you wrote on your blog.” This is simply what worked for me when I really wanted to evaluate what mattered to me about my writing and my potential relationship with an agent.

Consider critically dissecting the most important elements of your story. Really think about genre and genre conventions. Where does your book fit on the shelf? Do you care if it lands elsewhere? Why? Would you be willing to change the point of view? Add another character? Change the gender of your character? Something critical to who they are or their identity? Rip the structure out and put a new one in? Age the characters up or down to put it into a different age group? List out what’s important to you and really think about what your hard lines are. Knowing this will be incredibly important because it’ll tell you more about your book, yourself, and your future agent.

Identify what’s most important to you about your writing and your career. This will be really different depending on the author, but to get to the bottom of the “will you be a good career partner for me” question, you need something particular to you.

Which means no one can design it for you, unfortunately. But what I can do is give you an example. Genre is really important to me, for the reasons I talked about in this post. For my call, I had several questions tailored around this concept, from revision visions, to submission strategy, to general thoughts about my conception of the market versus Keir’s. Was it awkward to get all hot and bothered over my opinions on the call I’d been waiting to have for the past two decades? Yes. Was I nervous as hell Keir would think I was a messy, scattered human word vomiting slightly disjointed thoughts in faer direction? Yes. Did I still need to say this to figure out if we were on the same page about something I’ll likely come up against for the entirety of my career as a woman writing adult SFF? Also yes.

In short, it’s not a bad idea to have a couple questions prepared to see if you and your agent are on the same page about your career, and where you want your books (and yourself) to land. This should be an honest conversation. Your agent is your future business partner. Transparency is important. And if you don’t share the same vision, there will for sure be problems. If you write MG and your agent wants you to age everything up to YA and that’s a hard no for you, but you say yes anyway, then your edit letter comes and you have to write in an age group you know jack shit about, you’re going to be pissed. And your agent might be less than thrilled with the result. Similarly, if you write fantasy you dream of seeing in hardback on the shelves at Barnes & Noble next to Neil Gaiman, and your agent wants you to turn everything into fantasy romance to be sold digital only, so you can churn out three books a year to compete in the romance space, you’ll run into a problem or two, I’m pretty sure. Trying to figure this out now instead of later is better. Even if the answer is less than ideal.

Photo of a rowboat next to a dock in front of which is a castle across a lake.
Everyone trying to get on that boat and paddle to that castle. It’s a mood. Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash

There should not be a power imbalance. Your relationship with your agent should really feel like it’s mutually respectful. I will caveat this by saying this is a really hard thing to vet on The Call or even in the early stages of the relationship for most new authors, especially those who’ve been querying a long time. I’ve discussed this at length with many of my newly agented friends, including many who already have book deals and they still struggle with fear. This isn’t the fault of most agents, it’s simply a side effect of querying for so long. We’re all afraid of doing something “wrong” and getting “sent back.” Sadly, we also have reason to be in some cases.

Always be ready to say no. I had only one request. One call. Some would say I had one shot. Maybe that’s true. I had at that point essentially given up writing. But the lessons I learned during Pitch Wars about what was important to me about my book combined with what I’d learned in “quitting” (i.e. there was a whole career for me I was very good at and other potential passions I could pursue and still find meaning in) gave me the courage to approach my call with Keir ready to walk away. Obviously, I desperately hoped I wouldn’t have to. But I had a couple questions on my list especially formulated to try and discern whether Keir and I would be a good match not only for this book but for future ones. And they were mostly designed around those things that had gone from “I’ll make Isabelle a two-headed dolphin if someone will just say yes” into “I won’t change this because it really matters to me from a career perspective.” If we couldn’t see eye to eye on what mattered to me, I wasn’t sure how we’d continue.

Of course, this all has to be approached reasonably. It kind of reminds me of when my partner and I were first shopping for our home. We picked out the area and set the budget and had a list of “must haves” and a list of “nice to haves.” The more and more we looked, the more things moved from the “must have” list to the “nice to have” list. However, there were a few things that never left: two toilets, a garage, a fenced in yard, a dishwasher. That was basically it. When you’re researching agents, you can find yourself doing a similar analysis, but it’s important to never end up in a position where your “must have” category becomes only “an agent.”

Step 3: Post Call

I’m going to skip the actual call because I think there’s a ton of information out there on that whirlwind. It’s basically an interview.

So you got an offer, for real! Hooray!!! Time to eat cake! And nudge.


I actually didn’t have to do this because, well, whatever. Anyway, after you get the official verbal offer (industry standard is for the offering agent to give you two weeks to notify other agents), you can nudge any agent who has your query. The old advice used to be you nudge only agents who have your full or partial. Throw that advice AWAY. Immediately. Any agent who has your query who you’re still interested in potentially representing you, nudge. As a professional courtesy, do not nudge agents who you really don’t want to represent you now that you have this one on the line. You should withdraw your materials from them.

Now comes the part I really never understood.

How People End up with Multiple Offers

For four years I queried mostly alone, no community to speak of, no friends with agents, very much an outsider trying to find a way in. Authors on Twitter declared they had eight offers. It seemed impossible. The timing. Honestly, how did that work when it took agents 187 days to respond to my queries? How did they get eight all at once to read a whole book? Clearly, I was doing something very, very wrong.

Maybe I’m the only fool out there. There are pros and cons to that, I suppose. But in the event I’m not, the way people get eight offers is by getting ONE single offer then nudging everyone who has their query.

What happens after that is a two-week medley of agents requesting materials in a rush, passing quickly (called a “step aside”), and, if you’re lucky, more calls. When you’re in the trenches, this all sounds super exciting, but from what I’ve seen watching a bunch of people go through it, I think it sort of sucks, honestly. I might just be trying to cheer myself up about not having 37 agents clambering to represent me, but I’ve not seen this be particularly pleasant for anyone who’s done it. I think it’s probably pretty jarring to go from a stream of rejections to… frenzy. But because I haven’t done it myself I’m not really qualified to say much more other than that’s how it works! Oh, and at the end, you have to uh… decide. On one. Or none. Walking away is still always an option!

In Conclusion

There are no guarantees. Not in publishing. Not in life. This isn’t a set of rules any more than anything else I ramble on about. There are exceptions and scenarios I haven’t covered. Anomalies and twists of fate. I am pretty sure I know of at least one story about someone who got an agent without having to query at all, for example (maybe rumors, who knows). But for the most part, we all have to do the same things, and at the end, we have to make decisions that aren’t always easy using the best information we have at the time. Here’s to making some of that a little less nebulous.



Don’t Give Up… Too Soon

I know. I just wrote a How I Got My Agent post that was all about why it’s totally okay to quit. AND IT IS. To be clear. There is no right or wrong time to quit. Or to get back in the game. Or to leave it entirely. Or to try something new. Publishing is dynamic, and you can be, too. What you should not be is knee-jerk reactionary because you read some Bad Advice on Twitter™. Of which there appears to be a lot lately.

If you are new to querying, please go read my agent sib, E’s How I Got My Agent post first. There’s some Very Good Advice™ to be had there that we really don’t talk about enough. Like how pre-pandemic querying advice should be thrown out the window and some great tips on setting limits to help your mental health through this most arduous of journeys. My personal favorite being letting someone else have control of your query inbox. Which, by the way, if you don’t have a separate email JUST for querying, I do recommend setting one of those puppies up and giving yourself a specific ringtone for it that you can also just… turn off.

This post is sort of the reaction (not knee-jerk) to E’s post, which made me realize my own How I Got My Agent novella was great for those long-time queryers who were worn to pieces but maybe wasn’t considering the message I might be giving to writers new to the trenches. Fortunately, E to the rescue to rectify my oversight!

However, this post is also the reaction (knee-jerk, a bit, yes) to some new Bad Advice™ I’ve seen making the rounds on Twitter (again). Evergreen bad advice. Everyone’s favorite.

Evergreen tree to the left with opaque light shining down. Image by Pexels from Pixabay.

Luck is a real thing. It has nothing to do with you.

You could write an objectively fantastic book. It could hit all the right writerly things. It could have a great hook, a cool concept, a fantastic story arc, fast pacing, hit its beats with dynamite precision, and prose that makes the reader’s mouth pop open into a delighted little “O.” But let’s say for shits and giggles it’s a new adult portal fantasy about giant Donny Darko bunnies navigating their way through college who get sucked into a weird space/time dimension. Okay, clearly I don’t read a ton of sci-fi but DO YOU GET MY POINT? If the book is not hitting the right market at the right time, it can be the best fucking book anyone has ever read and no agent will request it because they can’t sell new adult right now, never mind portal fantasies that maybe are also sci-fi genre blending. This has NOTHING to do with you as a writer or your ideas or your book. Maybe in two years new adult will be a thing in traditional publishing. Or portal fantasy will be back. Or genre blending will be the next hot trend. But right now, that’s probably going to be a whole nope.

GIF of figure in bunny mask from Donnie Darko. Source: https://tenor.com/view/darko-donnie-gif-18843800

I don’t consider myself a very lucky person, but I obviously have been. Here are just SOME of the ways I have gotten lucky over the past couple decades of this wild publishing journey of mine:

  • At the very last moment a spot became available at a retreat in 2017 put on by MadCap Retreats and We Love Diverse Books and when I applied, I was able to snag it. There, I was able to make some amazing connections, many of whom are still my friends, CPs, and were influential in getting me where I am today
  • I got rejected from #PitchWars and #AMM and #RevPit a million times, yes, but I also made SO MANY friends and connections along the way
  • Two of the people I met at that conference in 2017 and one of the people I met during AMM helped me do BIG EDITS to the book that would FINALLY get me into #PitchWars
  • Being a #PitchWars mentee absolutely gave me a bigger platform than other querying writers
  • The #PitchWars showcase went very poorly for me, yes, but I again, made friends and CPs and supporters – AND one friend in particular who REFERRED ME to my now-agent (Gabriella you are amazing I owe you forever!)
  • My agent passed on my first book queried but was kind enough (and liked my writing enough) to request another book which is the one that ended up being The One
I sit in front of a monitor with my Pitchwars swag during another rewrite of the book that would eventually get me my agent.

A lot of things had to come together over a long period of years for me to get to that one single yes, and much of it involved luck and opportunity and yeah, hustle. I had to recognize the luck when it was happening and seize it, for sure. But to just pretend it was all me working my ass off and no just like… happenstance would be doing a disservice to other writers who are working THEIR asses off and no magic is happening.

Which is to say, if you’re working your ass off and nothing is happening, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing anything wrong. You could just be having shitty luck. There’s no way to control luck, but you can keep trying. Or not. Up to you. But don’t give up because someone said you had [arbitrary number of rejections] so you must be Writing Bad. Nope. No. Wrong.

Privilege is also real. Don’t minimalize it.

Privilege comes in so many forms. Whiteness. Straightness. Able-bodied-ness. Economic privilege has huge power in publishing. Connections. Networking. Who you can rub shoulders with (or not). A lot of the same things that fall under the category of “luck” for me can also fall under privilege.

  • That retreat in 2017? It was lucky a spot opened up and that I got in. But if I hadn’t had the money to afford to go, all the luck in the world wouldn’t have made a damn bit of difference
  • During the #PitchWars revision period, I was in the middle of transitioning jobs, which was actually just lucky timing, but I was economically privileged enough to be able to take a full month off between the two jobs to focus ONLY on my revisions. Many of my peers did not have this advantage
  • Do I think my whiteness and overall appearance of straight-passing/non-disabled in a profile pic helps me? I would be stupid not to

That said, the things you can’t see about me in a smiling photo on Twitter or my gushing about some kittens have hurt me. Almost destroyed me. Almost smashed this glass slipper of a dream against the cobblestone. Migraines. Broken teeth. Nerve damage in my back. Disassociation. My sexuality and coming out and what that has cost. The exposure putting my touch aversion and trauma on full display brings that I never really calculated. How talking about my recovery from addiction has ostracized me in IRL circles. So much incalculable pain to chase this thing I might never really hold to tell these stories the world might not even want.

It takes someone special to understand the unique experiences of people digging deep from these wells. That has nothing to do with you. It’s a them problem. Not a you problem. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt just as much, though. Your pain is valid and real, and I see you. But please do not let anyone drive you to quitting or changing your story or taking your identity out of it because of some un-nuanced hot take on Twitter. You are the only one who can tell your story. Finding someone to champion it, well, that’s the journey. If you want to take it.

Blue cake with a glass slipper on it with a bookmark that reads “You’re never too old for faerytales” next to a pink rose in a glass case.

Sometimes, it takes a few (dozen) books.

You can be writing good books now. Probably are! But if you love your writing and your craft, they’ll only get better. So, if you still love writing, and it isn’t taking a toll on your mental health, keep writing them! Don’t let anyone tell you you’re a one hit wonder. There’s always a chance to circle back on that other book that just wasn’t quite right for whatever reason. I know loads of people who have resurrected shelved books with their agents and gone on to sell them when the market was better for that book or their craft was better for that revision.

Also, if you need a personal example, a reminder that my agent passed on one of my books, requested another right away, and offered on it. So clearly it wasn’t “you suck as a writer” it was “this isn’t quite the right book for me right now what else you got?” And because I had been querying forever, there was in fact something else! Bonus to querying forever! So, for any new writers who are wondering, “Do agents really mean it when they say I hope you’ll consider me for your next project?” Yes! They do! A vast majority of my agented friends have agents who rejected previous projects.

Do not Self-Publish just because

Before I wrap this up, I do want to add this last part. Because hidden among some of the Bad Advice I’ve seen making the rounds on Twitter is some Good Advice. But it’s (of course) lacking some meat on its bones.

There are loads of reasons to choose to self-publish. You want the book in the world, have some money to spend (and know how much that will cost and how much you can afford), and don’t care how much money you’ll make as long as you can have something in your hands. You are a very savvy marketer who can write fast and have a great business plan and are ready to make a business of this whole self-publishing thing. You want a super expensive hobby and that’s cool if that’s all it ever is. The list goes on.

You should not self-publish because you’ve been querying for five months and have received twenty form rejections and fuck it. Self-publishing is a VERY big endeavor. It’s a whole business unto itself and you can incur tons of debt very quickly if you aren’t going in with your eyes wide open. Sadly, there are also a lot of folks who will prey off your desire to get your book into the world no matter the cost. Self-publishing should really be taken seriously and considered for a long time. Don’t allow rejections from traditional publishing to send you into debt if you’re not in a position to take it on. Instead, try some of the tips in my agent sib’s How I Got My Agent post to stave off (some) of the sads.

TL;DR I self-published two books in 2016 and 2017. I’m very proud of them, but I wish I had not done it. It cost me $10,000 that would have been better put to other uses. I made less than $1,000 on both books. This is a more common experience than the “I make six figures a month self-publishing and YOU CAN TOO*” stories you hear.

*All you have to do is buy my 7-book series on how to accomplish this and attend my $1,500 course on how to do it ‘right.’

Don’t let Bad Advice Get you Down

So all this very wordy post to say simply: Querying is hard. And shitty. It takes forever. And involves way too many things you have zero control over which is exactly why you see so many of these “Just do X” or “If you are getting X query response, then Y” posts. People are trying to help you (and probably themselves) regain some control over a process that is totally uncontrollable. I get it. I like rules too. And control. Boy, do I like control.

But I don’t like lies. And that’s what all that shit is, I’m afraid. Lies. There is no One Good Way to query. If there was, we’d all be doing it and getting our agents and taking publishing by storm. Or probably more realistically someone would be hoarding it and selling it to the highest bidders.

Either way, if you need to quit for you, absolutely do it. But don’t give up too soon. If people like E and me can tell you anything it’s that even when you think there isn’t, there’s a lot of story still left.