Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Please Hold For Next Available Representative

Querying literary agents is kind of like being stuck in an automated phone menu: you're not really sure if you've got the right number, you're not really sure which button will get you through, and when you are lucky enough to get through, they often want to transfer you to someone else.

I can be dramatic at times (family members: you just keep quiet). Turns out that works well in some professions, like writing and acting :) Turns out it doesn't work well when the rejection letters start rolling in. Every rejection gets my mind spinning. Was my query confusing/not exciting? Was the first chapter boring? Or was it honestly something the agent didn't click with? I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong, if I'm doing anything wrong, and it's driving me crazy.

On QueryTracker.net, you can view comments for any agent in their database and read how long they typically take to respond to a query/partial request/etc. Writers who signed with that agent will often leave comments too, and some of them will leave links to their blogs. I decided to check out one such author to see if she'd blogged about her query numbers. Up until now I've been under the impression that the great books go fast, and if I'm getting all these rejections... well, maybe I'm not in that category. But this particular author had signed with an agent who has a ton of bestsellers under her belt, so I thought, this is a good author. How long did it take her?

100 queries sent. 22 partial requests. Three offers of representation.

So, while refraining from calling my mother and telling her no one likes me and I'm a terrible writer, at least I know that even a potential bestseller had to go through 100 people to find the right agent.

Deep breath.

Onward.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Let Simmer For One Year...

It's been a year since I finished the first draft of The Novel and made the (ridiculous) declaration: "If I don't have an agent by next August, I'm self-publishing—no matter what!" Apparently I thought this book thing should have a fast track and I should be on it. Looking back, I've learned a lot—a LOT—about patience and perseverance and how getting published works. And I'm very glad I didn't stay on my "Must Get Published Today!" warpath, because I would've missed out on so many important lessons (and I'm not saying self-publishing is a bad thing, just that the way I would've jumped into it, without learning everything I've learned, would've made it a disaster).

The year's lessons at a glance:

My Round 2 edits came back last week. My editor was thrilled with the revisions, so much so that the word 'verklempt' made an appearance! I had to read one of her lines over and over when she noted there were only a few small changes to make. I was expecting another couple weeks' worth, at least, and after two hours of tweaks, I sat and stared at the "There are no more changes or comments left in the document" message and tried to remember what I was supposed to do next.

Oh, right. That querying thing again.

Last time, I gathered 50+ agent names and sent out batches of 5-10 letters. I didn't really care who represented me as long as they rep'ed my genre and were passionate about my book. When a rejection came in, I rolled another letter out. It was a terrible cycle. Out of 50+ emails, I only got one request for pages, which resulted, three days later, in another rejection.

This time I'm being much more deliberate. I've only sent out one query so far, and yesterday that agent requested the first 30 pages. I think I'm finally on the right track.
 

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