The Benefits of Querying—Even If You Want to Self-Publish

By , July 25, 2011 12:00 am


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.

"The Indie Bard" by MMRule

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!)


Get Real!

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.

Extra Bonus

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!


4 Responses to “The Benefits of Querying—Even If You Want to Self-Publish”

  1. Very nicely said and I agree. Querying other options can be key in a writing career.

    • MMRule says:

      Thank you for your feedback, Jennifer! I learned so much from querying my book that I ended up rewriting large portions of it.

  2. sarah james says:

    Great blog and so true. As much as I have cussed and fussed about the many rejections over the years, claiming a broken heart and an industry that doesn’t understand, querying has been very beneficial for me. The non fiction book I have out, Midwife Wisdom, Mother Love, was queried through an agent who liked the first half but not the second half. She wanted me to rewrite second half, I disagreed and argued the point for many months. In the end I came around to her way of thinking and rewrote the second half, creating a much better book that found itself a publisher within a couple of months.

    My current WIP, a YA, has been queried all over the world with a lot of form rejections and a few positive comments saying they liked my writing but it wasn’t for them. End of last year an agent in London said they were very impressed but there were a couple of problems, the advise they gave me was extremely constructive – although it took me a while to settle down and realise this – and has now been used to rework the m/s into what I think is a much better version. As to whether I go indie or traditional, I am still not sure, but I do agree with you, someone else worrying about the formatting is very appealing!

    • MMRule says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience with querying! I think that your point about taking advice from agents is very valuable. It is hard to let some of the control go, but I agree that following constructive feedback leads to a better end product.

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