Queries: Just how many is the right number?

This is a solid question. When you set out into the land of submissions, you’re happiness level is high. Just as is the level of hope you hold in your heart and soul.

–and you know it’s coming–

–rejection will sneak into your psyche like a rat into your toilet–

Maybe in the beginning you got a bite, but now… nothing.

So what is the magic number? When do you stop?

Back in 2014 there was a Writer’s Digest posted an article titled, “Don’t Give Up Until You’ve Queries 80 Agents or More.” (that link will take you right to it)

But honestly, if you read the article, it doesn’t explain why 80+ is the way to go. Yes, it does go into a succession of analogies on what it takes to deal with queries and rejections–but not why the number is so magical that it’s plopped in the middle of the title.

My guess as to why they didn’t touch on the why is because there is no magic number. All there is, is perseverance and the knowledge that if we (as writers) keep writing and working to improve ourselves and our crafts–if we don’t chuck our MS into the nearest trash can and say, “time to give up on that dream.”–we increase our chances of actually finding an agent and succeeding.

I set out to find a magic number because I have made a list of potential agents on QueryTracker.com. (This is the site I use. If you know of a better one, please share a link.)

On QueryTracker.com I created a list of 33 agents. I’ve sent queries to 28. Of those 28 I’ve received 17 rejections–one no reply that stated after a month it was an auto-rejection–and I have 10 letters sitting out there in the land of digital inboxes. 5 other names sit on my list. Some have been there for months. Most days I stare at them.

So this is my real issue. My novel–The Trials of Imogen Grace–is speculative science fiction. I supposed in the great scheme of things that yes, there are 80+ agents out there looking for science fiction–but where? At 33 I feel like I’ve exhausted my resources. Those 5 I stare at are because they’re so boarder line when it comes to accepting Science Fiction I’m already 98% they’re rejections and I haven’t even typed out, “Dear Agent,” on a saved draft in my gmail.

Now querying has gone from a necessary step along this path of getting my books published and has been twisted into a middle school math word problem.

A trail leaves Los Angeles with you, your computer, and a query on board. It is bound for an Agent in London. Your research shows they accept science fiction. You’ve done you’re homework and are plainly excited–this may be a good fit. BUT…they like to meet in person, and  that’s when you realize A TRAIN CAN’T GO TO LONDON! You forgot the Atlantic ocean!

But you’ll figure it out. You get out your trusty pencil and write out the equation: 80 – reality = ???


In conclusion I’ve come up with my own hypothesis on how many queries is the right amount. As many as you choose to send.

I’m not crazy. (for the most part). I get how this all works and I’m trying to look for the signs, or whatever was stated in the above mention article–but at the end of the day I also learned something more: self belief.

I like my book. I really, really do. I’ve read it about 500 times and I’m sure I’ll read it even more as I edit it one…more…time.

Yes, I feel like I’ve been at this a long time–ten years is a long time. Not on this novel, but in general. But instead of my need and will slipping away, I’ve found in those ten years I’ve worked harder, learned more, been more open to improvements.

Sadly, there is no magic number–just faith in yourself and your manuscript. If you love it and believe in it, than yes–you’ll get past that 80 mark. You probably bypass 100 as well–because you, like me, want what you’ve written out there.

Now all I can do is keep trying and hope someone will believe in it as much as I do.

Never give up! Never surrender. Happy writing! xxoo-A



When it feels like an impossible situation…


I’ve gotten to the point where I’d love to start a query like this:

Dear Jane/John Doe,

I’m emailing you today because I think you’re photo is rad.


I’m sending you this query, because why the hell not? I mean, seriously, you seem like a nice lady/fells. You tweet. You facebook. What do you think? Let’s do this!

Obviously, I won’t–but it makes me giggle when I think about doing it. It also helps  to have these obscure thoughts when I’m feeling hopeless. You know, remove the pedestal and all that.

No matter how many times I go out and query, it never seems to get any easier…


Never give up! Never surrender… but maybe nap and have a cookie.


Monologue Monday–creating a path




I’ve been writing for years–more than I care to share on days, because my ego takes hold and I feel like a failure.. I know how bad that sounds, but if you write, than I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

Will I quit? I’ve tried and failed at that as well–so I suppose I’ll keep going until I succeed.

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with an astronaut playing the guitar in the international space station–but it is because of this astronaut (Commander Chris Hadfield) that I decided to write this post.

Back on September 14th I took my seven-year-old son to see Commander Hadfield talk about his new children’s book, THE DARKEST DARK.


This is his first children’s book and is about when he decided to become an astronaut. Intended for small children–the picture book speaks about overcoming your fears to reach your goals.

I saw next to my child in an over stuffed hall of a catholic church as Chris Hadfield paced up and down the center row–a lot of the times stopping next to my son’s chair.

Mr. Hadfield read his book, spoke about growing up in rural Canada. A country that, at the time, didn’t have a space program. He spoke about deciding that he would figure out a way to get into space–and he did.

When I’m in the thick of writing–thinking about how many years I’ve been at this–it’s easy to forget how much progress I’ve made. It’s easy to forget that the trick to overcoming ones fears is an endless process.  You have to keep moving one foot in front of the other. You have to keep taking deep breaths and continue on that slow climb.

You have to read more, write more, ask more questions, endure more rejection, but attempt to continue that journey.

At the end of the night, after Mr. Hadfield shared his life and book with us, the floor was opened to questions and answers. A father of two little girls asked what advice Mr. Hadfield could give the children in the room about finding the path to success. Hadfield said this, (I’m paraphrasing), “Go to your local library (or book store) and see what sections you gravitate to. Chances are you end up in the same sections each time. These topics are the things we find passion in when no one else is telling us what to do. Now, pick the one you’re most passionate about and make the conscious decision to go after it.

Pick an end goal, and then work to it. You’re end goal may take years, but say, ‘this weekend I’m going to do [this] to work toward that goal.”

I decided a long time ago that I wanted to be a published author, but hearing those words reminded me of all the things I’ve done to work towards  that goal thus far. Yes, my end goal is still in the future–but giving up really isn’t an option. It’s not, because quiting the only true way to fail–and I’m not a failure.

Neither are you.

So, in closing–inspiration is everywhere. Sometimes it’s on twitter talking to other inspiring authors, or on facebook in the form of a writing group, and sometimes it’s in the hall of a catholic church listening to the first ever Canadian Commander of the International Space Station say, “Remember, my goal was to walk on the moon. I’m a failure, I’ve never done that. I’ve only been in space 3 times and lived in the space station for six months.”

Keep on writing. And as a little bit of fun, enjoy this video of Commander Hadfield singing and playing David Bowie’s, SPACE ODDITY.




Monologue Monday — “They took my idea!”


I recently found this amazing writing group on Facebook called–Ninja Writers. I wasn’t out looking for a group, to be honest, I gave up hope of finding a group of writers to work, learn, play, and grow with a long time ago . Not that they don’t exist, but I’ve never had much luck online or in the really real word setting down roots. (I do have some amazing people in my life, though, who encourage the hell out of me. For them, I am grateful.)

So, I find this group run by Shaunta Grimes accidentally while I’m looking up info on using a tri-fold to created a plot board. I sign up and immediately like what I see. People interacting, helping, encouraging, etc.–It’s fantastic!

I really do feel that it’s important to have a safe harbor when you’re writing because if you don’t–if you start to feeling alone. Suddenly when people ask what you’re working on, they’re spies waiting to steal your ideas–you’ll never succeed as a writer with this mindset. It will destroy you.


Last week I was scanning the feed of the group and a spotted a post from a member stating that they felt their idea was lifted off a different website years ago. As they read a book they watched their ideas play out in this popular series, their heart sank–years of hard work down the drain.

That’s what the post said.

That is the wrong way of thinking about it, and here is why:

There are over 7 BILLION  people on this planet. I’m throwing that out there to dispel the belief we are some how alone in all our thoughts. Yes, if we don’t say them out loud they’ll remain hidden in the dark recesses of our brain–but 7 billion is a large number. Chances are someone has already had the same thought you’re having right now. And now. And now…

You say, “I’m ruined! They published my idea!!” and I say, “You’re on to something.”

If you see something that resembles the ideas you’re working on–guess what? Your idea has merit. It’s marketable. You just found a comp. Finish your story.

To quote Ben Yoskovits, “If no one else is already working on the idea you have, there’s a good chance it’s a  bad one.”

This isn’t a bad thing–it’s a little mark on the treasure map of traveling from Point “A” (concept) to Point “Z” (finding and agent and your idea published.)

Failure is part of the process. Set backs happen. If giving up is still an option, maybe you don’t want it bad enough. If you just read that sentence and replied “But I DO want it bad!!” Then get back to writing. You, my friend, found a good idea–and I can’t wait to read it when you’re done. But I can’t do that if you quit, now can I?

Never give up! Never surrender!