Dispatch From the Querying Trenches (Part IV): We Did It, Joe!

Original graphic by Kat Korpi, character art by Jess Montz

It’s my fourth dispatch from the querying trenches — and finally I have good news to share.

On June 14, I got to send out a tweet I’d been dreaming of tweeting for 10 years. I got to share news I’d honestly started to believe I would never have the chance to share: I signed with a literary agent.

When I first pitched this dispatch, I didn’t have an agent, or even an offer. I was still mired in the trenches, but things were going better than they ever had before: I got my first full request on this book! And then…more full requests? And I was feeling confident, but also deeply insecure, which is a super fun dichotomy of feeling that the querying trenches tends to bring out in people.

And then, one random Monday evening as I was cooking dinner, I checked my email and saw I’d gotten a response on one of my full requests. My heart sank: I wasn’t in the mood for a rejection just then. Nonetheless, I opened the email, and as I scanned it quickly, my heart lodged in my throat. Because this was a super complimentary email, and there was no mention of a rejection, and it ended with a request for a phone call. I stared at my phone. The oven beeped that it was done preheating. I started laughing.

Cue me calling my friend, pacing up and down in my kitchen slash living room, cackling and muttering, “This is fine, everything is fine,” and absolutely spiraling.

I guess if I were going to pull some life lesson out of this article, it would be this: don’t give up on your dreams.

Because the thing is, I queried so many books and for so many years that it just became the thing that I do. I’m a writer, I’m querying, yeah someday I’d love for my dreams to come true, but I don’t actually believe there’s a world where that’s gonna happen!

And suddenly I was faced with the reality that my dreams were achievable? And I simply couldn’t process it.

What followed was the normal process: a phone call, an official offer, nudges, more full requests, etc…if you’re interested in the nitty gritty of the process, check out karisrogerson.substack.com and sign up for my newsletter to read the querying missive, full of fun stats and whatnot.

The thing is, I really thought and believed, up until the moment I read that email, that this would be just another normal querying process post. I was going to talk about how glad I am that my other books didn’t get me an agent from the trenches, because those represent a past-me that I’m grateful to have the chance to leave behind. I was going to share that I got my first full requests for this story, and what a joy (and, honestly, relief) that was, because it made me feel like, maybe just maybe, I do have stories that are worth telling. And I was going to talk in-depth about how absolutely, mind-numbingly awful the querying trenches are in 2022 and 2023.

Everyone on Twitter is talking about it; how much harder it is to query now than it was even three or four years ago. Agents are overworked, and about a million people wrote books during the start of the pandemic, having maybe more time to themselves to pursue a long-held dream. There’s stiff competition, a plethora of incredible stories, and it seems agents are looking for any reason to say no.

So as much as I wanted to be one of those people who got an offer in two weeks, I settled in for a long and arduous wait.

And it was that — don’t get me wrong — but I’m also incredibly lucky. Because I’m on the other side of it now, with a contract signed and an agent and I’m working on edits for my novel and I’m simply…flabbergasted.

Here's the pitch, by the way:

When the oppression at their conservative boarding school reaches a boiling point, openly lesbian artist Cami and maybe-not-so-straight track star Nat must work together to form a GSA — a choice that might just lead to falling in love and exposing the system that wants to erase them.

I guess if I were going to pull some life lesson out of this article, it would be this: don’t give up on your dreams. It took me 10 years to get an agent. I’m so grateful I didn’t give up after five, seven, nine years…I’m so grateful I took a chance on myself and wrote a better book that aligns with who I am now, and I’m so eternally grateful that my agent loved it. 

Check out Dispatch parts one, two, and three

Karis Rogerson

Column by Karis Rogerson

Karis Rogerson is a mid-20s aspiring author who lives in Brooklyn and works at a cafe—so totally that person they warn you about when you declare your English major. In addition to embracing the cliched nature of her life, she spends her days reading, binge-watching cop shows (Olivia Benson is her favorite character) and fangirling about all things literary, New York and selfie-related. You can find her other writing on her website and maybe someday you’ll be able to buy her novels.

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