Some people submit directly to a small press or epublisher. Others take the huge leap into indie publishing. But so many of us search for a literary agent. And what do all agents require? An awesome query letter.
UGH! I don’t know about you but I find writing queries way harder than writing a book. It’s hard to compress an entire book into a one page letter. If you think that I’m about to give advice on how to write a great query letter you’re sorely mistaken. The only advice I can give is to go find somebody who knows what they are doing and ask them to help you. That’s what I did. Oh and check out QUERY TRACKER. This is the site I’ve spent inordinate amounts of time on researching. It tells you everything you could possibly want to know about an agent. What they represent, whether they are taking queries, who their clients are, how many people have queried them, response times. And if you need a pick me up they’ve even got a section with success stories.
So you picked your agent. You’ve sent your query and are waiting with bated breath and fingers crossed. You check your email fifty-nine times a day like a nut job waiting for those magic words to pop up in the subject line. RE: QUERY.
And more often than not, instead of seeing, “I love it. Of course I’ll represent you and make you a superstar.” You get a rejection. Boy, do they stink and each one is like a little dart of self-doubt directed right at you writing heart.
But rejections are apart of the writing business. And writing is subjective. It’s impossible to please everybody. So expect to be turned down often. There are three types of rejections that are common.
No Response Means No
This is my least favorite of all rejections. I realize that agents are people too and that they get inundated with queries. Yes, I understand that they get busy but so do we. And if we took the time to write a book, research you and submit chapters of our work to you, you could at least have the decency to tell us no. A no, can be a bummer but at least we know. There’s no wondering if they received it, no waiting, no holding out hope for a response. And seriously how hard is it to send a form letter?
The Form Letter
I’m okay with the form letter. I once got a form rejection four minutes after I sent out a query complete with a synopsis and fifty sample pages, which the agent asked for on their site. Unless they were super speed readers they probably didn’t read my query. But a quick no is always better than a slow no. It’s easy to move on from those.
The Personalized Rejection
This can be a tricky one. I received a very sweet one this week.
Thank you for submitting to our agency. There was some excellent prose in your first chapter and I was entertained by your writing, however I will not be able to offer you representation. It’s not your quality of work so much as the tight market and the fact that I only represent a very limited amount of commercial fiction. I truly believe this industry is very subjective and hope you find a home for this project somewhere else.
That was nice. Did it take the sting out of being rejected? A little. But it was still a no.
I’ve also got a rejection that stated my hero was low-class and that real people didn’t act the way I had written them. Ouch. That rejection also caused me to wish that agent never sold another book and that his agency went under. I know. I know. Mean. But writers have feelings because we are people and sometimes it’s better to say nothing at all than to tear apart somebody’s hard work.
On the flip side not everybody is rejected all the time and when that reply comes, asking for more it’s a very nice feeling.
YOUR TURN! Tell me what you think about rejections. Had a nasty one? A sweet one? Are you querying? Have an agent? How did you get yours? Query a publisher? How did that go? Of course any and all comments are welcome.