Friday Speak Out!: No More Query Letters, guest post by Joanne Lewis

Friday, August 17, 2012
No More Query Letters

(If you’re not having fun, don’t do it)

by Joanne Lewis

I wrote my first novel when I was 24 years old and while a prosecutor working sex crimes. I didn’t have an agent. A small press that has since gone out of business published the novel. While I did not sell many books, I was invited to speak on panels and did book signings. I got an agent. I was on my way. Then my agent unexpectedly passed away.

Opportunities continued to arise, at least for a short time. Another small press wanted to publish a book of mine, however the novel was never released.

At this time, I’m 29 years old and feeling like my writing career would never go anywhere.

I didn’t write throughout my thirties. Not writing gnawed at my brain but I was productive in other ways. I left the State Attorney’s Office and opened my own practice. I fell in love. But still, I didn’t write. I knew, however, that I would write in my forties.

Four days shy of my 41st birthday, I experienced a life changing event. I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After a radical hysterectomy and six months of chemotherapy, I emerged cancer free and ready to write. I was determined to be published again.

One day, as I was trying to write the perfect query letter, I told my sister I was tired of hoping an agent or editor considered me worthy. She said, if you’re not having fun, don’t do it.

I stopped. No more query letters. No more hoping to find an agent. No more praying for that editor to make me the next big thing. No more yearning to call a publishing house my home. I decided to self publish.

Here’s what I’ve learned about self publishing. It’s better than traditional publishing in many ways. We still do our own marketing but we also have control over our product. The final edits. The cover. How much we charge.

Do you know who looks down upon those of us who self publish? People in the publishing industry. Shouldn’t they be cheering us on?
Do you know who doesn’t care if we self publish? The readers. All they ask for is a good book.

What I don’t understand is how come self publishing, which is the same as being self employed, is given a bad rap? I started my own law practice and was congratulated for being an entrepreneur. I bought a house, flipped it and people were impressed. I have been self employed since 1997. Why is writing the only industry where being self employed is frowned upon?

When I am not working as a lawyer, I am writing and striving to follow my sister’s advice. If you’re not having fun, don’t do it.

I am 47 years old now. I have self published two novels. I do not sell a lot of books. I know that will change when I am in my fifties. Hopefully, this time the life changing event won’t be so drastic.

* * *
Joanne Lewis is the self published author of Wicked Good (co-written with her sister, Amy Faircloth) and Make Your Own Luck, a Remy Summer Woods mystery. The Lantern, a Renaissance mystery, will be released in November 2012. Please visit her website at and email her at Her books are available as eBooks and as paperbacks on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all over the web. Please ask your local bookstore to order her novels.

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Congratulations, Joanne, on freeing yourself from the establishment. I hate writing query letters also. ;)

Margo Dill said...

I LOVE this post, Joanne. I am a big fan of yours! :) And I think what you said here was perfect. You are so right about the publishing industry being the only ones that care about self-publishing. I did a survey on my Facebook page and asked if people looked at the publisher of a book when deciding to read it. I asked for non-writers to answer the question. I would say 99% (I don't do math) said No--they look at author, genre, Amazon reviews, friend recommendations, etc. :) I think I'm going to start preaching more and more that writers need to socialize with more than just other writers. Find your readers. They want a good story. :)

Ev Bishop said...

>>>Why is writing the only industry where being self employed is frowned upon?<<<

Good question!

I really enjoyed this post and you and your sister's advice. :)

I've heard of your books elsewhere (so that's a good sign you're getting your name out there ;D), and I'm loading my e-reader for my holidays and including MAKE YOUR OWN LUCK. :)

Renie A. Shoemaker said...

I also gave up on query letters. Your advice is right on the mark! I self-published my book "Hunter's Purpose" in 2006. I didn't sell a lot of books but I accomplished my dream of being a 'published writer' and that is what brought a smile to my face. I did intend to write another novel but had to deal with breast cancer and my writing got put on the 'back burner'. After reading this article I'm inspired to continue my writing. Thanks for this wake-up call. Renie Shoemaker

Jackie Bouchard said...

Love your post. I also decided to self publish this year. (Actually, my agent was the one who encouraged me to do it.)

Hope you have great success!

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