Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Survival Tip #12 - Get It Right and Sleep at Night

When you're querying, you will be anxious.  You will go over that damn query a hundred... errr... a thousand times, and you will think you have it right. 

Unfortunately, in your anxiety and haste, you will inevitably get something wrong.  And for days... errr... months afterwards you will lie awake at night remembering that one little thing that jumped out at you AFTER you sent the query.

For instance, you will hit send and notice that for some reason you forgot to put your name in the signature.  (I choose to believe that at least some of the people Janet Reid references in that post simply forgot to put their name at the end of their query.) 

Maybe you sent the query out thinking that you had everything right - until some agent responds telling you that you got something wrong.  In my case, I misspelled a culturally significant name and a certain agent let me know it in the rejection she sent.  (I still mull that one over every time I see her name.  D'oh!)

Perhaps you hit send and realized you forgot to change the salutation from 'Dear Mr. Jones' to 'Dear Ms. Murgatroid'.  Which is particularly irritating considering you did remember to change the personalization part of the query.  But in your haste to get it right, grit your teeth and send your query out into the world, you missed that one key part.

Now I've heard agents say they won't let one little thing like that kill a perfectly good query.  You know, if everything else is perfect...  But those little errors sure can't help.

So... and yeah, you've all heard this before... check and recheck those little things before you hit send.  In my experience, the best way to do this is to slow down.  Let yourself relax.  Take a day.  Sleep on it before you hit send. 

Trust me on this.  You'll sleep better the other 364 days knowing you didn't make those niggling little mistakes.

And if you do make them, let them go.  Easier said than done, I know - especially considering I'm still wringing my hands over mistakes I made in 2004.

What mistakes have you made that keep you up at night?  Or are you someone who can let those things go?  Any suggestions on making sure you have it all correct before you hit send?


  1. I've done the wrong name thing, that used to keep me up. Now I worry about the notes I send my agent, so it's not like the problem gets much easier, lol.

  2. I am going to knock on wood the entire time I type this comment... *knocking on wood* In my querying experience, I never made a spelling mistake or a name mistake, etc... That might be because I would spend an entire evening on every single query letter--which was exhausting, and I'd prefer not to do that again next time. I also prepared every single query in its own word document, which helped a lot. Of course, I only queried one story, so I'm sure to make a mistake at some point.

    *keeps knocking on wood*

  3. Oh, yeah. Been there. Did that. Stayed up a couple of nights, shrugged, and went on to the next thing. I have learned that it's best for me to print out the letter. I sometimes catch mistakes on paper that I've missed on the screen.

    I sent off a query to an editor once and she had one of those "generic" names. I addressed her as Mr. in the letter. This was back in the day when a writer actually *mailed* letters, instead of email. She wanted to see a partial but she also corrected me on her gender. She ultimately rejected the MS because Marketing wasn't sure what to do with it, not because she didn't like it. *whew* Since then, I make darn sure I know if it's a Mr. or Ms.! ;)

  4. Like Natalie, when I'm doing query letters, I do them all individually - individual word documents and re-read over and over again (with checking of agent's relevant information, also). It is exhausting.

    The only mistake I made was to mail a query incorrectly (the mail guy gave me poor advice). I e-mailed a hasty 'I'm sorry' to the agent and she e-mailed back for me to resend. Whew!


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