My Querying Journey

As most of you know by this point, I am going to be published in April 2021! Of course, this didn’t magically just happen, and like most people after they signed, I’m writing a post about how I went from a nervous writer querying for the first time to signing the publishing contract. You excited?

My querying journey started back on January 30th, 2020, and truth be told, I actually was not done with the edits. I still had about three chapters to go. But friends said I could still participate in a pitching event (#SIFFpitch) on Twitter, so I did. I got my first agent like. Yes, I was screaming in excitement. I sent off my first query the next day and began the wait.

About half a month later, after finishing edits, I sent a query to an agency that I had been hoping and praying would work out for a long time. I was very nervous because this looked like a possible perfect fit and I wanted it to be the perfect fit. Around the same time, I also took part in more pitching events, but the agent likes were few and far between. Most of the time I didn’t get any attention except from fellow writers. And, as the determined person I am, I was sending out cold queries as well to any potential agents and even publishing presses that accepted unsolicited manuscripts that seemed to publish my kind of book.

And, as can be expected sooner or later in the publishing process, the rejections began to roll in. They were not necessarily bad ones either, more just, “Really enjoyed your story, but not the right fit for us. We wish you the best elsewhere!” Of course, there were plenty of queries that never got a response. But it was still discouraging never to get a full request or even a partial request. A part of me wondered, “Have I done something wrong? Am I querying this in the wrong genre? Even though this is historical, should I query this as literary?” I continued to participate in pitching events, though with little success. A friend of mine, an editor, liked my pitch and told me to send my manuscript to the publishing press he works with, saying they were interested in publishing more fiction (previously had just done non-fiction) and he had talked to their head at the time and they were interested in my work. So I sent off my full manuscript, which they had asked for, and promptly forgot about it. I thought I had bigger fish to fry.

Except those fish escaped my net.

The first rejection I took hard was, understandably, from the agency I had really hoped to work with. Though they asked me to query them with adult fiction in future, I was still devastated that my “dream” had not come true. And then other presses and agencies I really hoped would work out also sent rejections, and I began to become discouraged. I started searching out presses that I had not considered before and sent them queries, thinking after all that beggars can’t be choosers.

Then I got my first full manuscript request. They seemed very positive as well, so I sent it in with great excitement, wondering maybe if this was it.

A couple days later, I got a publishing offer. Yes, I was over the moon. I could hardly believe it. But thankfully I still retained enough brains to be suspicious about some demands they made in the offer and asked around with my fellow writers in the query trenches because it looked odd. And my suspicions were correct. Though a traditional press, they required you to essentially fund your first print run (which would amount to a couple thousand). Most people don’t have that money, especially me, so I told them I couldn’t accept the offer.

Yes, I was devastated. I sent out another query that very afternoon as I was in the habit of sending out a query for every rejection I received so to always keep the same amount of queries out in the field (or more) and received a reply that evening. It was the most scathing rejection I had received yet, and the agent said she couldn’t even pin point what time era my story was in. (Okay, Roman occupation of Britannia? Boudicca? Not to mention I had actually stated the very year in the first chapter…) I was in tears at that point and just didn’t touch my writing for a few days.

But three days later, I was more determined than ever and sent out three queries in one hour, one to a literary fiction agency, thinking maybe I should query in a different genre.

A couple months passed and the rejections continued to roll in. (Or not roll in, just silence.) I participated in many pitching events and got no agent likes. Feeling rather “meh” about it all, I texted my editor friend if the press I had queried had said anything. It had been a few months after all and I hadn’t received any word. Apparently, they were going to send me an email that very day.

The email never arrived. I sent them a reminder email just in case, and a few hours later I received both feedback on my story and a publishing offer.

Now, I had my misgivings as this wasn’t a traditional press. New Degree Press is a hybrid press, and essentially if I signed, I would get all the rights and royalties to my work, but the publishing costs would be paid through a funding campaign. Sounds complicated, but I was thinking that maybe this would be the best fit for my work, which is a niche novel anyway.

I talked to my parents about it (yeah, still a few months to go before I become an adult) and prayed for wisdom. I still had a few queries out in the field from June (this was early July) and sent an email to the agencies saying I had received an offer and gave them the customary fourteen days for a response.

Within a week, I got three rejections. I had never received so many at one time. After much discussion and emails between NDP and I regarding questions I had, I scheduled a call with them to further discuss what the process would look like and entail—all the things you should know before you sign, of course.

Then I signed on August 4th for my debut novel, Between Two Worlds‘, publication, with a scheduled release for April 2021 provided the funding campaign goals are reached. (For those interested in supporting my work, the campaign should be launched within the next month or less. I shall do my best to keep you all posted.)

It still hasn’t quite sunk in that I’m going to be published. It probably won’t until the campaign is completed, or maybe until I hold my book in my hands for the first time. But I’m still so excited to finally share my story with the world beyond where it was first written. And I can’t wait for you all to join me on this next phase in my writing journey.

I hope you enjoyed reading about how I found a home for my debut novel, and please feel free to comment any questions below! I’d be more than happy to answer them. 😀 I also plan to start writing more posts about the writing process and even the querying process and tips that work for me or things that I’ve found helpful.

But until then, I’ll leave you with the current blurb for Between Two Worlds. 😉

Enid, a young Celt, is overjoyed when the youth she admires tells her of his love for her. But her hopes and dreams are shattered when slave traders ambush them and sell Enid off as a slave in Rome. So she buries her past, struggling to survive in a world vastly different from her own.

Illegitimate and rejected by society because of his British ancestry, Lucius is desperate to prove his worth as a Roman. He enlists in the army with hopes of gaining honor, only to lose everything in the process.

Two different souls, one hopeful for change, one seething in bitterness, both caught between two worlds. When they collide, nothing will ever be the same.

Yet Rome is hostile towards these outcasts of society, and Enid must learn to lose one identity in order to gain another, placing her faith and trust in the God of Christiani if she and Lucius are to have any hope for a future together at all.

Between Two Worlds blurb

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