I have a coaster on the desk in my office. It reads: NEVER NEVER NEVER GIVE UP. So, lack of punctuation aside, of late it’s become my mantra. I tend to be a bit slack when it comes to marketing my work. As long as I’ve got something out there, I prefer to get on with the business of writing. You know: the fun part! And often, if I don’t hear back about my submission, I just let it slide. Agents are very busy people, after all. And yeah, I know that I should requery the agents on my wishlist if I’ve written a new book coz they might just be interested in that one, but I’ve been a bit wimpy about doing that in the past. If they weren’t interested in my fantasy, why would they be interested in my paranormal? Then in steps T, a very savvy writer friend of mine.
“You should query such-and-such an agent,” she says.
“I did with my first ever manuscript – the first book in the fantasy trilogy: the one that finalled in the Clendon,” I reply. “Back in 2004. She wasn’t interested.”
“You should query her with THIS one; the paranormal that won the Clendon,” she insists. “Go on. Do it.” (Nag, nag, nag.) “Have you done it yet? Have you? Huh?”(Exaggerating just a smidgeon here, but you get the picture.)
So I requery with the manuscript and even though it’s just a query letter with no sample chapters or synopsis, to my surprise, she asks for the full. Now if you’re waiting for the happy ending, i.e. the really hot agent loves me to bits and sells all my manuscripts for an obscene amount of money and my hubby is finally able to retire, then don’t hold your breath. I got a rejection – a very nice rejection, too. And a nice comment about me “obviously being a very promising writer” which really does make my entire year :-). But she didn’t like my style enough to want to represent me.
And that’s perfectly okay, because the style is quite sarky and in-your-face in this particular ms and although it won a competition with it, I’ve had enough feedback to know that it polarizes people: they either love it or hate it. But even though it was a rejection, I was happy. It was a good rejection – actually a great rejection.
Are you entirely mad? I hear you screaming. It was a rejection! What’s good about that????
This: I had proof that I could actually write a decent query letter – one that impressed an agent enough for her to ask me for the full manuscript – and remember, it was only a query letter; no sample chapters or synopsis to impress her. So that, ladies and gents, is quite an accomplishment in my humble opinion, because when I got out my file and took a squizz through the first queries I ever wrote for my very first manuscript, I cringed. They were terrible! Like the first three chapters of the first draft of my very first manuscript, actually. Boy, did I have a lot to learn about this business back then.
So thanks, T. If you hadn’t given me a prod in the right direction, I’d probably still be head down, bum numb from sitting at my keyboard, tapping away until I finished yet another manuscript, salivating about the great idea I have for another book, and all the while I’d be ignoring a very important part of the writing process: if you want to get published, not only do you have to write a great book but you have to write a great query, too. You have to figure out how to tell everybody all about your great book in only one page. and hey, that can be harder than writing the damn book!
If I impressed one agent enough for her to request the full ms, then there’s bound to be another out there. I just have to find the right ‘match’. And some day, hopefully, there’ll be an agent out there who’ll love my writing as much as the Clendon readers and final judge for the competition did… but I don’t have a hope of hell in finding her or him if I give up and don’t send out queries. So I’ll take the words from that coaster to heart and keep on writing, keep on sending out queries, and never, never, never give up!