The decision to circumvent the querying process and jump straight into self-publishing seems like a “working smart” move for many aspiring writers. And who can blame them. No one wants to lose weeks and months waddling through rejections when companies like Lulu and Amazon make it easy to shuffle through the self-publishing process and give a metaphorical middle finger to the “heartless” agents.
But these writers fail to realize that there are benefits to querying an agent that will assist with the self-publication process.
Querying Even One Agent
- Forces authors to truly understand what they’ve written.
- Helps them to familiarize themselves with marketing and publication standards.
- Provides a much needed reality check.
Better Understand Your Novel
Writing a query letter (and the often requested synopsis) is an exercise that no writer should bypass. Querying forces an author in roughly one page to address the big questions that are otherwise too easy to avoid:
- What are the most essential plot points of my book?
- Is there a clear genre and hook?
- Can others trust that I’m qualified to write this?
Answering these questions are essential when editing and polishing your book. And querying not only forces you to think about them, but also makes you exercise your ability to do so concisely and professionally.
Familiarize Yourself with Marketing and Industry Guidelines
Query guidelines urge authors to consider issues like word count and target audiences. If you want to take on selling your own book, you must know who wants to read it and whether it is a novel or really a novella or a series in disguise. (It is never OK to have a 150+K debut novel!)
Finally, the likely form rejection letter (or silence) from an agent provides a necessary reality check. It is too common for authors to use their imagination and talent to see the successful future they want in a less than worthy book. Shattering the dream through even one agent’s rejection is helpful to pull authors back to reality. The odds of success are against first time novelists. The possibility of being the next King, Brown, Meyers, Harris, etc. are next to impossible. If authors want to succeed, they should seek out some rejection and constructively turn that into added motivation to read daily, write more, and edit smarter.
Who knows what opportunities will present themselves once you query your book. Maybe you will land an agent and a publisher, and someone else can worry about formatting your novel for the Kindle and Nook. There is nothing wrong with having more than one option!