Monday, June 7, 2010

Agent Quest

I've got my list and I'm checking it twice.

Gonna find out which agents are naughty, and which ones are nice.

But seriously . . .

I want to personalize my query letters. Partly because I want a personal relationship (not just a business relationship), and partly because showing that I've done the least little bit of research might set my query apart from the generic slop they must get inundated with every day.

I have 14 agents on my hit list. One of my cp's advises that I probably need 50 (try to envision personalizing 50 query letters to people you don't know personally . . .). The other one landed her agent on her third try.

And I've already mentally revised the first sentence in my query letter. Ugh.

What I'm about to say is snotty and I would never want to be responsible for ripping away someone's dream, but this is my blog so this is my fantasy . . . If all of the writers who haven't studied craft, who haven't done their research, who haven't finished a manuscript, who are ego-centric and/or narcissistic, would just turn their attention to other endeavors (I dunno—Interior Design? Auditioning for American Idol?), the battle for attention might just shift.

A well-balanced (mostly) writer with an open mind for improvement, and a disposition for mission, would simply have to announce the completion of her manuscript—the genre and the word-count—and agents would be sitting on her Internet Doorstop waiting to make (me) an offer. They'd be bearing flowers and chocolate and fine, red wine.

Wouldn't that be cool?

And I really, really want to get back to my next project. Although this agent quest is necessary, it's a bit of a distraction.

Advice, anyone?

CR: The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner.

It's all better with friends.


  1. I don't know if Blogger is still having problems, but this comment came via Sisters in Crime:

    Learn not to dwell on the rejections. Don't try to analyze them. Unless they give you some detailed feedback, vague words mean nothing more than 'it's not for me' You can tear yourself apart trying to decipher some cryptic words from an agent. Don't do it. Just keep querying.

    I save all emails from agents, rejections or not in a separate folder. I also record them all on Querytracker. I do it by rote now, and only skim the emails to see if it's a variation of no thanks, then I get rid of it into my folder and go back to work or send out a bunch of other queries.

    Right now I've exhausted the email queries I can send. There are about 3 or 4 that want exclusives so I'm leaving them till later. Otherwise all I have are those that want snail mail queries and I'm out of money and out of paper, so those will also have to wait until next month.

    So far I've had 14 rejections this month alone

    Pat Brown
    Award winning author of the L.A. crime novels.

  2. It's a huge milestone, Peg, so let me for one take a big breath and envision those flowers landing on your doorstep, or at least a big, fat yes!

    Seriously, it can go hard or easy at any point of the process. The writing, the agent search, the submission process, the board weighing in. I hope for you to have smooth sailing at every point, or if not that, a passionate friend and ally in your agent along the way.

  3. To add to Pat's advice,
    > A fair number of agents now only respond if they're interested, but they may ask for a SASE anyway. I keep track of the rejections and note how long the response took, but assume a rejection after 12 weeks. If someone asks for a partial or a full, I follow-up eight weeks after sending it. Because of the frequently ignored SASE, I find myself leaning more and more to agents who take on-line submissions. If the agent has a Web site that doesn't have specific submission guidelines or an accessible list of clients, I avoid it.
    That having been said, I have 46 queries and partials out for two novels now, going back to October 30, 2009, and 38 of them date before March 17, 2010. One is to an agent who asked for three chapters when I pitched to her in person last November at Crime Bake. I sent the chapters and a synopsis within 48 hours. In late January, I asked for a status update, and have no answer to that, either.
    > I plan to pitch again at Crime Bake this fall, but hope a few new faces will show up because I've already received my fair share of abuse from the usual suspects.
    > At this point, if an agent would show even the slightest sign of courtesy or respect, I'd be tempted to sign with him.
    > Steve

  4. I thought this worth copying and pasting from the SinC loop:

    I'd also add to make sure you're query is as perfect as you can make it.

    At the Pennwriter's Conference last month, there was a panel with 4 agents (Janet Reid, Jenny Bent, Jennifer Jackson, and Alex Glass). Anyone who wanted to participate, handed over their query letters to the moderator and she read them aloud. The agents raised their hands whenever they would stop reading the query. Most were rejected within the first few sentences.

    Their advice? Begin with your hook! Don't waste time saying you're seeking representation (that's obvious--you're sending them a letter!), or why you're querying that particular agent--UNLESS you've met the agent or you have a referral from one of their clients. Keep your book summary short--one to two paragraphs at most.

    My advice is to keep tweaking your query letter, too. If you send out 10 and don't get any requests, the problem may be with your letter and not with your book.