The Inbox: A Tale of Horror

I’ve enjoyed attending WriteOnCon this week (it ends tonight). I’ve learned and grown and have been inspired. Tomorrow I will be busy catching up on housework that I’ve neglected for the last three days (the Con started on Tuesday). Because of this, I’ve decided to do a blog post today instead of my Friday five (or four) tomorrow.


My desktop icons blink to life. Amid the shortcuts for games and programs, one stands out. It’s the Firefox link. Its blue globe wrapped with the orange fox is more intimidating than one would think. Why is this icon so sinister? Because Firefox connects me to the internet and the internet connects me to my gmail.

I place a trembling finger on my laptop version of a mouse. The arrow inches across the screen, making its way to the Firefox shortcut. Once in position, I pause. Do I want to click? I only use my gmail account for submissions and the occasional entry in a contest. If I have mail, it’s most likely a reply from an agent.

The brave part of me wants to click. It’s so easy to do. One little movement with my thumb or a simple lift and tap of my finger will do it. But I’m afraid. What’s out there in the darkness of the internet? Will I find rejection? A request? What?

I have to know, and so I click.

And there it is.



I’m not sure which is worse, an empty email inbox or an inbox with a rejection or two (or more).


I’m once again in the submission stage in my search for an agent (after not submitting for over a year while I did a complete revision and started a few more projects). I’d forgotten how time consuming and gut wrenching the process is.

First, there’s the time consuming research. Making sure the agent is one who accepts the genre. Reading interviews, tweets, and anything else I can find (sometimes I’ve taken notes so I look through my notebook and update as needed). If I were to add it all up, I bet I’ve spent more time researching agents than I did researching info for my books! Alright, probably not, but it seems like it.

After the research, comes the query letter. It’s not something as simple as copy and paste (other than the novel info). The personalization comes into play. Putting the research to good use, I craft a beginning (or ending depending on agent’s preference) into the query so the agent knows I didn’t just pull their name out of a hat.

When all is finally ready, I have to let the query sit for at least 1/2 an hour. Then I come back to it and look it over to make sure it’s error free (though sometimes I still manage to miss things). Once I’m satisfied, I steer my arrow cursor to the send button.

Usually at this point, I pause because I’m overcome with doubt. When I work up the nerve, I hit send. It flies across the internet and lands in the agent’s inbox (or that of an intern). This is terrifying!!!

It’s out of my hands. I’ve done everything I can and put my query and/or pages out there for consideration.

Now I wait . . . and wait . . . and wait. There’s always a moment of panic when I click on my email and wait for the page to load.

Earlier, I said I wasn’t sure which was worse, an empty inbox or a rejection. After thinking about it while I wrote this post, I think the empty inbox is worse.

With the empty inbox, I don’t know. The hope is alive, it’s exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. I try so hard not to get my hopes up, but I can’t help thinking that maybe this time I’ll get a request for a partial or full. It could happen. Hope; a dangerous plant to cultivate.

At least with a rejection, I KNOW. The hope is dashed. I can go to (a great way to track submissions)and change the query icon from an envelope with lightning bolt (for equeries) to a red frowny face rejection icon. I can move on to the next agent on my to query list and start the process all over again.

The Inbox is a terrifying tale of horror that retells itself each and every day.

Since it’s doubtful that I’ll have time to log in tomorrow, I’ll be early and say I hope you all have a great weekend!


Write Submit on.

About Joan Stradling, Author

Joan Stradling is a middle grade and YA author of stories with magical elements. She loves painting, baking, crafting, pet wrangling, and anything else she can fit into her schedule. A passionate believer in the power of books, she still hopes to one day ride a dragon, meet a Hobbit, or discover new worlds by walking through a wardrobe. In the meantime, she imagines and writes about her own incredible worlds and characters–and continues to live vicariously through the adventures in other’s books. You can find her on Instagram (@JoanStradlingAuthor) or Twitter (@justJoanS) or FB (Joan Stradling aka Joan Stewart) Join me on Patreon:
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