5 Steps to Surviving the Query Trenches

Having recently entered the query trenches, I've realized that querying is very taxing. Mostly because my worrisome little self can't stop doing what it does best -- worrying.

I worry about the little details of my query. I worry about submission guidelines. I worry about submitting to the right agents. And with every rejection, I worry that my book isn't good enough, that no one else will ever want to publish it.

And, judging from what I've heard from other writers, I'm not alone.

So how can we writers stop ourselves from worrying into the ground?

1. Breathe.

Seriously. When the panic starts to set in (from rejection, deadlines, whatever), breathe slowly and deeply. This will signal your brain to stop freaking out.

2. Stay hydrated

Panicking makes you thirsty. Thirst and panic can lead to headaches and general blahs (this is my experience and probably not scientific, but it's true). Drink lots of water. It helps.

3. Focus on the things you can control

You can't control whether an agent will like your work. You can't control whether you get picked for a contest. You can't control the number of rejections you get. But you can control following the submission guidelines, making sure your query and manuscript are as polished as you can make them, and (of course) writing.

4. Write your next book

Assuming you're only querying one book at a time (and I really recommend you do), that one book will be completely messing with your head after a couple of months. You'll have scoured every inch of it, polished it, scrubbed it so clean you could eat off it. And yet, even during the query process, you'll have to trim a little bit here, sand a little bit there, add an extra lick of paint here. It'll feel like it's never completely done, and truthfully, it won't be until after it's printed and published (your agent might want edits, your publisher might want edits -- heck, even you might want edits at the later stages).

So what's a writer to do?

Do what you do best. WRITE. But write something new. Something to give you a breath of fresh air after all those blasted edits. (For example, this is my new WIP. Note how it has nothing to do with my querying manuscript).

5. Step awayyyyy from the screen.

Writing. Editing. Twitter. Querying. Research. Blogging. More Twitter. All these things are part of a writer's life, and all these things are, by necessity, done at a screen. So, to give yourself a break, get away from that ghastly backlight. Go read a book. Go outside. Go read a book outside. Cuddle a kitten. Do whatever makes you relaxed, but get away from your computer (or your phone or your iPad or whatever else you like to work at). Then you'll be refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to get back into the trenches.

Do you have any submission survival tips? Share them in the comments!

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