If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I have sort of created a Brand™ around being transparent about how writing failures have affected me, usually in long threads that should be blogs. They weren’t blogs because in 2019 I shut this website down due to, well, a perceived failure.
I have always written about failure, even before anyone knew me for being that writer who writes about failure. I just didn’t have a platform then. Weirdly, I didn’t have a platform to talk about failure until I succeeded. The four times I didn’t get into #PitchWars no one paid me any attention, then I got in and talked about all the times before when I hadn’t, and people started listening. All the posts I wrote on this very blog about how I was getting nowhere with querying went mostly unread until I finally got my agent when THAT post was shared dozens of times and read by thousands of people.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly grateful that people are listening, and that I have this platform to talk about rejection and failure and how hard this whole publishing thing is, but I still feel the voices we need to hear most are ones who are not yet successful.
Because regardless how long you’ve been at this, when you DO finally get there, it’s nearly impossible not to see all the struggle through a rose-colored lens. It’s hard for me, even now, not to look back on the past two decades of pain and loss and fatigue and failure and not think well… but I’m here now. And I learned so much. And built so much character. And maybe it’s for the best because maybe then I wasn’t ready for all the different reasons one isn’t ready. And maybe the advice that the only way to TRULY fail is to quit isn’t wrong and everyone does get their happily ever after as long as they keep trying. Toxic positivity is a hell of a drug, y’all.
Some of this might be true, by the way. A lot of it, even. It can also be true that when you’re in the middle of querying despair this is about as helpful as “Just keep going, pal!!”
What might be more helpful is hearing real stories from real people in the thick of it just like you. People who don’t have Cinderella stories. People who are struggling. Who might need you to read their words as badly as you need to know you’re not alone. People you can connect with.
That’s what I needed for many, many years before I found success. Before I found my yes. But I had no platform. That’s the terrible cycle of this thing.
So, I’m here to loan people mine.
You, querying author who wants a place to tell your very own querying journey story, will submit it to me via email. In the email, you’ll give me some basic information about you, the book you’re querying, how long you’ve been querying, and if you wish to remain anonymous, use a penname, want accreditation, whatever. I’ll read the post, make sure it follows the rules below, edit for anything minor grammatically or to shorten if necessary, let you review the edits, and if you’re okay with them, I’ll post your story on my blog and Twitter. This will give you a space to connect with other writers in your position (if you want) or at least have your story out there (if you don’t). It will also give other writers a place to read stories like theirs so THEY feel less alone in this hardest of querying things.
- No bad behavior directed toward agents, editors, publishers, or other industry professionals of ANY kind. This is intended to be a place to talk about the journey, not to rage against industry professionals. Please keep it professional, or I won’t be able to accept your submission.
- This is a space for folks to talk about their struggles with traditional publishing only. Please no submissions related to self-publishing.
- No submissions that are racist, homophobic, sexist, ableist, xenophobic, ageist, or intolerant of any marginalized group will be tolerated. This is intended to be a safe space for all.
- This is for authors who ARE NOT AGENTED only. If you’ve self-published or published with a small press but are actively querying for an agent, you’re absolutely welcome!
- Please make sure to include all appropriate trigger and content warnings (and understand I might add some). Special note re: Query Statistics: Many of the submissions received have included query statistics for obvious reasons. Some folks reading are sensitive to query statistics. If you’re including query stats in your submission, that’s totally fine, but please include a CW regarding that or understand I’ll add one. Also optional but not mandatory consideration would be to put the query stats at the end (if possible) so they can be easily avoided or include in the email to me a link including the stats (such as a Twitter thread, a blog post on your own blog, etc.). Again, not mandatory but a consideration!
- No one-size-fits-all advice! As we all know by now, there’s no one-size-fits-all way to query, so if you have a tip to share, please make sure not to frame it as a universal. Tips (especially ones that are helping your mental health and might help others) are absolutely welcome, just not framed as This is the One True Path, please!
- If you’re providing images please make sure they’re freely sourced, public domain, or you’ve been given permission to use them, and you provide appropriate credit/links, etc. We’re all artists, let’s not infringe on one another’s intellectual property. Also, alt text for accessibility is highly encouraged.
- I try to publish 1 to 2 stories per week, usually on Mondays and Thursdays at 9:00 a.m. EST. If for whatever reason I get inundated, I’ll announce on my blog and Twitter that submissions are closing so everyone has a fair chance to have their story heard. That means this will be first come first serve (as long as you follow the rules).
- Please try to keep your posts under 2,500 words where possible.
- Be kind!!! To everyone but also me, heh. I work full time and am going to do my best to facilitate this in my small spare time so if I run behind, sorry!
- I reserve the right to modify and/or add to this list as situations pop up, so I can preserve the integrity of the premise.
Interested in submitting? Woot!
First thing’s first! CALL ME AIMEE! My pronouns are she/her! Yo what’s up Aimee or Hi or Aimee is fine! Please don’t worry about making this highly formal. What follows sounds a lot like querying because I don’t want things to go to spam and I like to categorize them and I want to make sure they don’t get missed in my inbox, etc. but THIS IS NOT A QUERY! Do not stress on the greeting or the format of the email. Tell me as much or as little about you, your book, your stats, your life, (your cats!), why you’re writing this, as you feel comfortable telling me. I’m super weird and awkward, I guarantee you I want to be your friend.
Now that’s out of the way…
Please send me an email to email@example.com with the subject line SUBMISSION: [Name of your blog post]
In the body of the email, please include any biographical information you’d like to include with the blog (or, if you’d like the blog to be kept anonymous, please specifically so indicate). Please also include any basic information about the book you’re querying or general info about your age group and genre. Don’t include anything you wouldn’t want included on the internet! So if you’re cool with a logline that you’d put up in a Twitter pitch event and want me to preface the blog with that, send it my way. If you’re not, please don’t feel obligated to do so, this is all about YOUR comfort.
Also in the body of the email, NOT as an attachment, please include the text of the blog you’re submitting for consideration (bearing in mind the above rules).
The last thing you want when you’re querying is more querying. Again, please do not think of this as querying. I am not gatekeeping, I’m content moderating only. I’m not judging your posts based on anything other than the above rules and possibly my time if I have to close submissions which I’ll be transparent about. So when I’ve received your post, I’ll email you back as soon as I can letting you know I have it, and I’ll review it and be back with you shortly. If you’ve followed the rules, I’ll send you whatever edits I might have for your consideration, then let you know when your submission will post based on how many others I’ve received ahead of you!
When it’s your day, please feel free to share wherever and however! I’ll categorize all of these posts under the blog as Not the Darling and on Twitter as #NottheDarling so your post will be called NOT THE DARLING: [Title of your blog].
If for whatever reason I can’t accept your submission because I feel it’s breaking one of the rules or it is hitting a note that I think might hurt someone on the other side of the screen (or YOU, remember publishing is small), then I’ll tell you why that is and give you an opportunity to revise and resubmit if you want. Or not. Totally up to you. But IF I send something back please know I really just want this space to be welcoming and kind to everyone, including you, and I don’t want anything to go up on the internet anyone regrets later.
Still have questions? Concerns? Please feel free to email me, hit me up in the comments, or message me on Twitter!
Can’t wait to hear from you!