Focusing your energies on what you can control, not what you can’t, is critical to success. As agents, it’s something we discuss all the time when it comes to our own careers.
You can’t control other people, their words, actions, behaviors, loves, likes, or wants. You can’t control the market, the weather, or anyone’s personal interests. What you can control is you, your actions, and the work you’re doing.
The Power of You
Querying can be the most out of control feeling authors have. You’ve spent months writing a book where you have full control of what happens. You feel the book is ready and now you’re sending it to people whose personal interests you have no control of and into a market that’s ever-changing.
While you can’t force someone to take you on as a client, you do have control of key things that determine success. How you approach this will, I promise, make a difference in your career. Remember, querying agents is only the first go-round. These skills will help you later when your agent is querying editors and later, when your publisher is selling the book.
Keys to Success
- Honing and polishing your query skills–learning what makes an effective query.
- Writing and revising a strong and rejection-proof query.
- The number of queries you send and the frequency with which you send them.
- Acknowledging that struggling while writing a query might mean the book, not the query, needs work.
- Writing and revising a competitive and marketable manuscript.
- Moving on to write and revise your next manuscript.
- Networking with authors and agents to get referrals and learn about the business.
- Researching agents to learn specific interests, likes, and dislikes.
- Taking chances on those you deem “too big” or “not quite right.”
- Not rejecting yourself by deciding someone else won’t like it.
- Going for no, because only no’s will lead to yeses.
- Studying and understanding how the industry works.
- Becoming an expert in your competition, your market, and your genre. In other words, reading books and researching bookshelves.
- Embracing feedback, revisions, and critiques.
- Asking for feedback, revisions, and critiques.
- Your emotional response to rejection–are you angry and bitter, or more determined.
- Your persistence to write more, query more, and keep going.
There is so much in this business that’s out of our control, for authors and agents. I know what editors like, but I can’t control whether this is the book that meets those likes. Focusing on what we can control empowers us and teaches us along the way how we can do better.