On querying

One of the surprising lessons I’m learning from the writing process is how fun the bad parts are.

Okay, the moment of opening that Obviously A Rejection Email or checking my query tracking spreadsheet to see which hopefuls have been ghosted for at least 8 weeks isn’t amazingly fun.

In the academic world, the moment of deciding that a work is ready for submission to a journal is mixed: relief, anxiety, insecurity. It usually carries a big dose of “How will this be received?” and “Who will be judging me on the other end?” and “What happens if this gets rejected?”

Kidlit writing and querying is still weighed down by a certain amount of insecurity and anxiety– there’s a passage in every query letter that I assume reads ‘Who exactly are you, lady?’– but the moment of hitting send is accompanied by excitement rather than worry.

I’m excited to see if someone shares my delight with this work. I query or submit things that make me laugh or that I would love to read. I submit them figuring I can’t be such an outlier in my tastes, and eventually I’ll find someone who agrees.*

There’s far less fear than there is in academics. There’s less relief at having it out of my hands and into some editor’s decision-making pile. It’s more curiosity. Is this going to be the agent/magazine/editor/right time? Rejections are disappointing but not crushing. Academic rejections can be a set back, a real blow to the ego and the career. Kidlit rejections are expected and practically a game, in SCBWI message board lore. If you aren’t getting rejected at least once a month, you aren’t submitting enough.

I hope the excitement stays. I hope the fun never goes anywhere, either. As for the ever-increasing list of rejections, I have good news for my SCBWI message board mentors.

*This is a hypothesis under active investigation.

Author: Kate Rowland

I'm a normal human kidlit writer.