Sadie Hawkins Query Day


When I think back to my high school days, I literally cringe.  Back then my introversion was just taking root, establishing a solid foundation for the future that the Empire State building would be jealous of.  And my shyness was in full swing as well.  It was the worst when I found myself one on one with a girl, and downright debilitating if I liked her even a little.  Needless to say, dating was something I thought about all the time, but sadly never experienced. I lived my life in fear of four things…1) No…2) Hell No…3) An awkward silence…and, 4) Laughter in my face.  I was so afraid of those four possibilities, that I never considered the fifth.

You know, it really is a miracle I’m married.  But that’s another story for another time.    

During those Saturday nights lying on my bed, commiserating with sad songs playing on the radio, I would imagine ways I could change life’s dynamic to make it easier for me.  It wasn’t until much later in life that I realized the irony of it all, that while I moped around because of my own choosing…there were girls sitting on their own beds wishing for the phone to ring just once.  Anyway, back then it boiled down to one thing; girls were in control of the dating process.  Boys had to ask the girls out and all the girls had to do was say yea or nea.  If there was a way I could flip that around and have the girls on the other side of the equation, then the world would be cake! 

Then I found out about the Sadie Hawkins Dance.

*The Sadie Hawkins dance is named after the Li'l Abner comic strip character Sadie Hawkins, created by cartoonist Al Capp. In the strip, Sadie Hawkins Day fell on a given day in November (Capp never specified an exact date). The unmarried women of Dogpatch got to chase the bachelors and "marry up" with the ones they caught. In the U.S. and Canada, this concept was popularized by establishing dance events to which the woman invited a man of her choosing, instead of demurely waiting for a man to ask her. (*thank you Wikipedia)

So, one time out of every year (from the day the dance was announced to the actual dance itself) the stars would re-align and the dynamic would change.  The girls would experience some of the agony that their suitors go through, and ditto the boys.  Now stick with me here, let’s take that concept and run with it.

Every time you send out a query letter, you are in essence asking an Agent on a date.  I’ve read a few blogs where the querying process is likened to dating.  Aspiring writers live in constant fear of this process because the answer frequently comes in the form of a rejection letter bearing one of the four possibilities I outlined above.  Agents hold all the control and writers agonize as a result.

What if?  What if one day out of the year there was a Sadie Hawkins Day for Agents and Writers.  What would that be like?  What if Agents had to ask writers to allow them to represent their work? They came knocking at your door?  How many Agents would you say NO to…waiting instead for that dream Agent to ask you out?  I bet there’d be more than a few Agents who would sit the day out, choosing not to take part because they fear discovering how often they might hear NO.

Yes, it’s silly day dream fodder, but turning things inside-out to see what things look like from a different perspective is what we writers do.  Sadie Hawkins did nothing for my dating life in high school, so why should I expect my imaginary spin on things to be any different.  But it does makes for an interesting blog post. :)

37 comments

  1. I like this. I'm so desperate and unpub'd though that I'm afraid I'll take the first agent who shows a glint of interest. There were actual Sadie Hawkins dances in my school, but I was too shy to ask anyone.

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  2. Oh that would be a great switch. For some authors that make the deals themselves for thier books this happens.

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  3. It would be nice to be sought out, but I never knew of any relationship to come out of Sadie Hawkins so...

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  4. That would be a switch indeed. I'd love to have all those agents knocking at my door and me saying, "You don't fit my needs, thank you," never explaining what those needs are, and then closing the door in their faces.

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  5. LOL! That would be funny. Bet if they were in a room full of self-published authors the agents would hear a lot of no's.

    And for the record, I had to ask my husband out. (He said he would've eventually worked up the courage.)

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  6. It's not as silly as you think! Once an agent becomes interested in representing your work, the tables shift and the agent starts courting the writer. My agent has written about this process in various interviews and says she still feels sad about some books/authors who didn't pick her!

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  7. LOL this is a genius idea - though I think I'd still be afraid that nobody would knock!

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  8. Great post! Lots of fun! I think it's more likely that an agent would ask to see your work, but not necessarily offer representation until the "date" is over, but we can all dream, right?

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  9. I don't think this would be a good idea for me personally... I'd probably be so starry-eyed at being asked that I'd go with the first person who asked me! (That makes me sound desperate...) Agreed with Liesel's comment above. Maybe the "dating" part is an agent asking to see your work? And then if that works out... a big white wedding contract?

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  10. SO MUCH THIS!!! Love it! Querying is TOTALLY like asking an agent out on a date and waiting WEEKS to hear a reply. gah! But they do go through that a little bit when a prospective client gets multiple offers and they get to choose (it sounds like a nice problem for a writer to have, but would it be, really??).

    I remember going to a Sadie Hawkins dance in HS. I didn't want to ask anyone, so I didn't, and just planned on flying solo, and the day before, this dude asked me to ask him! I was like, um... NO. Not how it works. hahahaha.

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  11. This would be excieting and nerve racking at the same time. I suppose it does happen for some people though. How would you know who to choose?

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  12. I almost wonder if this would be like picking a dodgeball team and the good ones pick the good ones and the okay and bad ones are left hoping they aren't last. Ah, the angst!

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  13. Loved your posting and for some reason now after this comparisson when the time comes that I am able to submit something will be thinking of the day I receive the "Dear Jane" letter :)

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  14. Ooh, now that's a new concept. Works for me. I love how you used Sadie Hawkins. Nicely done. ;D

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  15. Hi DL! I enjoyed your post. What a fun prospect that would be, to have agents seeking out the writers.
    : )

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  16. It's a great concept, Don, but my mind went immediately to the same thought as Tasha's 'unpicked for dodgeball' comment above.

    I don't know which is worse -- asking and being rejected, or sitting there waiting to be asked and then never having it come.

    The secret is really just simple supply and demand. We just gotta get every other writer in the world to stop writing. Then it'll be a slew of agents and only a few writers -- a seller's market!

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  17. What a fun idea! I'd still worry over not getting calls though! :)

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  18. Oh heck, I'd probably giggle and stammer and just embarrass myself until the agent moved on to the next author.

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  19. Now wouldn't that be a heck of a thing. Get a handful of new aspiring agents together for a Sadie Hawkins Query day. Have a group of willing writers submit their queries to a box for the agents - new and eager just like a novice writers - to sift through and find ones that intrigue them so they can reach out. Then have them send a "flirt" to the ones they are interested in and give the writers a chance to ask, say, three questions before deciding yes or no with a particular agent...or have the three questions already established then have the agents answer them along with their "flirt". That would be dreamy :-)

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  20. That would be awesome to have agents calling me.

    I try to think of the querying process as a job application. It's nothing personal if we don't get the job.

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  21. ha ha! Great analogy. I was also painfully shy and never dated in high school. Oh well, I don't think I actually missed much. :D

    I did feel like the tables were turned when I got an offer of rep. I had two wonderful agents to choose from and it was a nightmare. Hardest decision OF MY LIFE. I don't envy agents having to say no to writers every day, especially when they *could* be passing up a best seller.

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  22. Well, I've seen agent auctions where agents do fight over manuscript submissions. I can't remember what site they have them on, but it's the same kind of idea, although it's for a look at the full manuscript, not an offer of representation.

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  23. There are a few agents out there who got into the business because they love writing but couldn't get through the iron gates and eventually went to bat for the other side. In my experience, most agents understand that the querying process is nerve wracking, but it's important to see it from their perspective--the way you envisioned girls wishing the phone would ring. How many hundred queries does an agent look at a day? AND how many of those are stalker-like, freaky, self proclaimed and overstated? I think Sadie Hawkins comes after after the first date. =)

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  24. lol... man would that feel good. And in essence, there are those mss that agents fight over and the writer gets to choose. One of my CPs had 6 agents fighting over her ms. I can't even imagine that when I can't find one. lol
    Can i just say that on the flip side of your coin, I hated Sadie Hawkins dances and I was stood up for one. Yep. Total jerk left me hanging after I bought tickets and everything. But those are the memories that make for great stories. :)

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  25. You know what? You're right about there basically being just a few possibilities for query letter responses (or non-responses...it's the silence that drives me nuts sometimes, unless it's from a 4-weeks-or-no type of agent~ those I can deal with, because closure is always within sight). If it makes you feel better, I never dated in high school either, and I didn't go to a single dance~ never got asked :)

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  26. Right on, we had a Sadie Hawkins dance at our school.

    Oh, wow, would that the agents would come knocking on my door! That would be so cool.

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  27. I remember Sadie Hawkin's days. This is a genius plan! haha Even if it never happens, it DID make a great blog post.
    Catherine Denton

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  28. Ah to dream! I only think this would be cool if the agent is someone you're interested in representing you. Which is why we query, in theory, those that we feel would be the best fit for us. But it is easy to focus on the dream agent (hot guy) instead of another agent who might be better for you (sweet, lovable guy). :)

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  29. Now, wouldn't that be a kick? I'm sure agents have dream authors, but they are probably more along the lines of best sellers.

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  30. What a great analogy. If only we had the wisdom we have now back then...

    I love the thought of a Sadie Hawkins agent day! Wouldn't that be fabulous?

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  31. i never knew thats how sadie hawkins originated! figures it's american!

    if only agents would accept that analogy...sigh

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  32. Ha, ha, ha. Participated in the Sadie Hawkins thing once in H.S. Asked a guy to the dance got a very definite NO (maybe it was even Hell No) that only confirmed what I already knew.

    I have to admit one thing; later on I went on some horrible dates that I would not have normally accepted, BUT that experience left me with a resolve to not turn anyone down again.

    Agents---too bad they don't look long enough or deep enough to see the potential. BUT 'give a person a little control and they are sure to exercise a unrighteous dominion'.

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  33. This is an awesome idea, DL! It could be so fun and informative for both sides. Now, if only we could get some agents onboard... :)

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  34. I was painfully shy until middle of high school, then I got over myself. I had the same amount of acceptance as I did rejections, so I guess I did okay. Yep, that would be nice if agents asked us. :)

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  35. DL, it does make for an interesting blog post and I hated Sadie Hawkins day.

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  36. Hehe, leave it to you to put this spin on things. Come on, tell us the story of how your wife got you to open up!

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  37. see now us girls who were sitting our beds waiting for the phone to ring were thinking the same thing: how come boys have all the power? Why do they get to choose who they will and will not ask out?

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