The Deep Space Experience of Querying

Imagine yourself in the year 2050. You’ve worked hard to scrounge up enough credits to buy yourself a small freighter. It’s an older model, it leaks coolant when you push it too hard, and the thrusters whine when you start them, but it’s yours. It’s your home, your office, your lifeblood. You run jobs that more self-respecting pilots won’t even touch, and you scrape together some kind of living.

Until, one day, you get the job of a lifetime. Giddy with the prospect of a big payout, you gloss over some of the details.

Like how much fuel you’ll need.

Now, you’re floating around in deep space with just enough power to keep the ship’s life support going. You’ve sent out a distress call. You’re waiting for rescue, hoping someone picks up your beacon and decides to help before the oxygen runs out and the eyeballs are sucked out of your head.

This is what querying feels like.

It’s a tad dramatic, but the raw emotions that go with sending your book baby out into the void feel much like being stranded in space, watching the oxygen levels melt.

If you’re querying, odds are this is your first book, or at least the first one you’re willing to put out there. Your opinion of it alternates between “this book is a perfect construct sent to me by the heavens” and “any sane person would rather bathe in a septic tank than read this.” Depends on the day. But this book is yours. It’s you. You’ve put so much of yourself into this that you might as well be ripping off bits of your own flesh and sending them with every query.

Agents will seem like soulless, unblinking robots who don’t care about your work. You’ll need to remind yourself that they are humans with lives and feelings, even when they don’t go out of their way to rescue you and your book baby from the indifference of deep space.

It’ll often feel like you’re on your own.

You’ll think “surely, no has had it as rough as this.” You’ll think this ordeal will break you.

But every single author you admire, and even the ones you don’t, went through this process. And I assure you they are very much still alive (on the outside, anyway). They all faced slews of form rejections, criticism, and the crushing static of radio silence.

It’s part of the process.

Every freighter hangs in deep space at least once, sometimes for years. The pilots do what they need to in order to survive. They eat the soles of their boots. They serve overpriced coffee to condescending professionals. They cannibalize the laser cannons to keep life support going just a bit longer.

But they don’t give up. They don’t just go away quietly into the night. They tell themselves they’ll last one more day. They’ll send out one more query. They’ll revise one more time if that’s what it takes.

And, eventually, they make it through.

Maybe you get published. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you take on some other project in the meantime, something that lets you flex some creative muscles you didn’t know you had.

But the important thing is you don’t give up.

And though the void of space is all-encroaching, and the rescuer might never come, it’s better to be out here than back on the ground. Better to be among the stars than to just dream about them.

So keep sending those queries. Let the rejections sting but move past them. You’ve got too much riding on this to quit.

We all do.