I’d guess most of us ask ourselves this question at least once a week, if not more frequently. My day goes something like this: roll out of bed, let the dog out of his crate, avail myself of the facilities, parade with the dog out of the bedroom, turn on the coffee maker. While the coffee is dripping, let the dog outside and if it’s dark, go out with him to fend off hungry coyotes. After breakfast, the rest of the day gallops like a runaway horse.
Lately, I’m spending an inordinate amount of time on my laptop sending queries to literary agents for representation of my novel, THE RISING ROAD. The query process is time consuming to say the least. Finding agents who represent the category (genre) of my novel was the first step, followed by determining which ones were open to submissions. Then came the most time consuming aspect of the process, submitting exactly according to the agent’s guidelines. Some want only a query letter, others want a one to three page synopsis, parts of the manuscript or chapter outlines. All this was hard enough, but writing a good query letter was the hardest. Distilling a three-hundred plus page novel into three or four sentences is incredibly difficult! I have no idea how much time I invested in the process, but if I had to guess, it would be upward of three-hundred hours. YIKES!
It can take weeks, even months to hear anything. I’ve been going through my email daily, anxiously looking for replies. To my utter shock, agents aren’t lining up to promote my work! (Not really. Rejections are par for the course.) I file the rejections as they come and send thank you notes for the same. Huh. Not for a rejection, but an acknowledgement that the agent took the time to let me know he/she wasn’t interested in my work. It feels kinda like a hangnail. Not pleasant, but hey, I still have a finger.
Rejection language runs the gamut. “Not right for us” is fairly common as is “didn’t feel a connection”. The word ‘fit’ turns up time and again, as in “not the right fit for me”, or “not a fit for my current list”. It doesn’t take long to figure out which rejections are rubber stamps and which ones are personal notes. One of the nicest rejections I got was from Jeff Silberman who took the time to write a lovely, encouraging note. Still, it was a (bleeping) rejection.
I get it. Agents are inundated with queries every day. I wonder how I’d respond to email after email, thousands of authors vying for representation. It is a business, after all. If an agent can’t sell the work, they won’t eat. And if they don’t believe in the project, it’s not good for me either. As for rejections, I keep in mind an anecdote related in Steven King’s ON WRITING. An author sent out queries based on the classic, WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS, and received nothing but rejections. Take heart, oh my soul. You are in good company.
I’m incredibly grateful to be in a position of reaching out to literary agents. How many people can say they wrote a 92,000 word novel? That in itself is a privilege and I do not take it for granted. Writing is often hard work, but it is a joy to run wild with my imagination and see it take form on the printed page. It eats up the hours faster than a retriever on a bowl of kibble!
Maybe by the time I’m ninety, I’ll figure out where the day went. And maybe I’ll take an afternoon nap.
Since I wrote this blog, I have been offered and accepted representation by Lauren Miller of Metamorphosis Literary Agency! I’m blessed and excited about this partnership and looking forward to a long literary road ahead. Thanks to everyone at Metamorphosis and especially, Lauren.