How I Got My Agent (Part 3: Query Submissions)
You’re ready to start sending queries… YAAAAAY! It’s pretty straightforward from here. Email the query you’ve worked so hard on to the agents you’ve researched so diligently.
For me, querying was a roller coaster — no joke! Like the fastest, craziest ride ever.
Oddly enough, the hardest part about my query submissions was being in Provence that whole week. I had almost no internet, so I couldn’t obsessively check my email! That week will forever be the most surreal, amazing vacation in my memory… Wandering vineyards and eating French cheese while having agents request materials — Dreams Really Can Come True.
I chose to follow a method offered by the Gatekeeper — what she calls the middle route. I chose 1 name from each of my lists (Dream, B, C), and I sent off my query and the requested pages/synopsis.
To some extent, I was testing the waters. I didn’t want to contact all 30 agents if my query wasn’t compelling or my sample pages sucked. I would have burned all my best bridges then! So I went slow…***
***KEEP IN MIND: Even though I was waiting to see how the agents would respond to my query and sample pages, The Spirit-Hunters was still in The Best Possible Condition. Like, REALLY.
I tweaked, changed, polished, and scrubbed until I hated my novel. Then I tweaked, changed, polished, and scrubbed until I fell in love with it all over again. It took me 1 month to write, but 7+ months to revise. Get as many people to read it as you can — people whose feedback you trust. I had, like, 8 people read/crit scenes. When my toughest and most experienced beta reader declared my novel okay, I knew it was.
You have to do this too! Why? Because this is your ONE CHANCE to get that agent. If they read a partial/full only to reject you, then that agent is no longer a potential agent for your novel. So you can’t give them any reason to reject you — at least not reasons that are in your control.
What you can control: pacing, description, voice, plot, character! Typos, grammar, flow, hooks!
What you can’t control: taste, preference, what else the agent is representing/reading. (While these are all viable reasons for an agent to reject you, remember they aren’t reflections on you, but on the agent. Different strokes!!)
Back to the story…
I received 2 full requests the same day I queried. Needless to say, I was shocked and GIDDY. Screaming around the house. I sent out the full manuscripts (you can see how to format this email here), and then I contacted 1 more agent from each list (Dream, B, C).
By the next Monday, I had 2 more requests for fulls. I shot out some more queries — all to dream agents this time! I realized I had something good here, and I didn’t want to miss a chance with my Dream-of-all-Dream agencies.
I sent out 11 queries total, and I had 1 pitch during that time — so I contacted 12 agents.
My first offer of representation came on Thursday, October 14th. I was FREAKING OUT EXCITED. I think I might have cried for joy. My in-laws definitely didn’t understand what was so amazing or why I wanted champagne that night. No one gets how hard it is if they’re not in the “biz”, ya know?
After the offer, I immediately contacted the 8 agents who were still in possession of the manuscript, and I told them I wanted to make a decision within a week. (You can see how to format this email here.) Then I guzzled some more champagne and waited.
Tomorrow I’ll talk about The Call(s) — how it happened for me with multiple offers, the questions I asked the agents, and how I made the brutal decision. You could very well be in my shoes soon enough!!