Obsolete

My BF list of agents to query is obsolete. Is that even the right word? I'm not trying to say that it is a passe technology, but rather that it is not needed anymore. Let's go with obsolete.

I gotta admit, it makes me a little sad. I spent hours and hours on that thing and two weeks later I don't need it anymore. Oh well. I'll store it in a little folder somewhere at the back of my hard drive, just in case a friend needs it or, heaven forbid, I need it again someday.

It's sad, but it's not a bad thing. :-)

I have no official news yet, as I really don't want to jump the gun. I'm not certain of etiquette, and I'm a little superstitious on top of things, so no announcement. In fact, I really shouldn't say a damn thing at all for another week. But I can't shut up. I'm too excited.

Things have been flying by. Submitting to agents, and then afterwords to editors, is a waiting game. It might be weeks before you get your first rejection, months before your first request for a partial.

I had four requested fulls twelve days into the waiting period.

This blew me away. I did not at all expect this kind of response. It baffled me, frankly. I'm confident my stuff is good. What writer isn't? I enjoy it. My snobby wife enjoys it. My beta-readers enjoy it. None of this means that a professional will find it mildly sell-able.

Yet some of them do.

The next several months are going to be very exciting. That's all I can say now. I have a pretty good idea of how they will go. I think. I am new to all of this. Then again, I had that same "pretty good idea" about the next couple of months two weeks ago. That's changed significantly.

I'm rambling now. I have no coherent thoughts. I will have to organize them properly in say, two weeks.

All of this excitement means that I'm not doing much cooking. I'm very busy. I barely have time to throw things in the bread maker. Luckily Michele has been taking over almost all of the evening meals (though she says my duties still include bread and cookies). I'm fine with this. She is turning into a very good cook. Her peanut chicken tastes like it comes from a Chinese place. Mmmm.

Holy Queries, Batman!

I've continued making my way through my BF list of agents the last two days. I've produced a satisfactory synopsis and let me tell you it was so much easier this time around. One might even say that I'm a better, more mature writer. Or one might say that I did far more research (that is, browsing agent blogs) before I wrote this one. Take your pick. Either way, it's finished, and I'm getting on with my queries.

I've been working on the printed queries today. I am relieved, after finishing just one so far, that 80% of the agencies out there have moved from snail mail to email query. It's going to save me a ton of money, for one. Time, for another. Wrestling with a crappy $60 printer whose paper feeder and catcher arms were both broken off by one's wife is a real pain in the rumpus.

One of the things I watch for when I read agent blogs is how other people tend to go about their queries. Weronika Janczuk, a lit agent with D4EO, actually asked this question on her blog recently. I went through the answers and had one of those "Oh. You guys actually have a strategy" moments. It had never occurred to me to send out a batch of six queries and wait for answers, and then tweak my query and send out another batch. I produced what I think is a pretty good query letter and I've spent weeks scouring the internet for agents I think might be interested and now I'm sending them out. To everyone on my list.

I definitely see the merit in sending out a few at a time, tweaking, and then sending out more. But...but... I just don't have the patience. I gotta be honest. Further, I didn't go through my list and pick out my top five or ten. I took everyone out there who might be interested in heroic fantasy and put them on my list without further ranking. However, as I have been sending out the actual queries I've spent maybe twenty minutes on each agent, surfing the web and lurking all the author help sites and discovering what I can about that agent. If I find that agency is particularly well thought of--or the opposite--I make a note of it. If I find that agent is only mildly interested in commercial lit, then I make a note that they won't likely be interested in my book. Yet if they take an e-query, then what the hell I'm gonna query them anyway.

So that list of my top 5-10 agents is going to come about AFTER the queries have been sent out. This sounds kinda stupid when I say it that way, but since I'm not being choosy about who I send my queries, this isn't really a problem. This list WILL be nice, however, if I some day get a nibble from a publishing house before I do an agent.

The Queries Must Go Out

I've spent a lot of time online the last two weeks reading agency websites and creating a spreadsheet with all the agencies and particular agents that might be interested in Promise of Blood. I started sending out queries yesterday. In fact, I got my first rejection as I wrote this paragraph. Quick turnaround time on that.

So far I've sent out 21 queries. My list of agents to query: 67. I started with all the easy ones; that is, the ones that ask for a simple query letter and maybe the first chapter. I'm leaving the ones that ask for a one page synopsis (about half of them) until the end because I absolutely dread having to write that synopsis. I remember when I sent out queries for Butcher I spent days and days on the synopsis and still felt like it was stilted, listing, and totally useless in getting across the story of the book. There's just so much going on in a 150K word novel. How do I shrink it to 1 page?

Now, yes, my query letter includes a two paragraph blurb for the book. Of course. So you might ask, how is that any easier than a page? Well I'll tell you. It's easier because I can just sketch over the main storylines and the coolest concept and BOOM I'm done. When it comes to a full page things are different. Characters need to be introduced, concepts need to be explained, and twists revealed. You need to touch upon everything important that happens in 150K words all while making it coherent and interesting and you have what, 500 words to do it in?

Anyway. I'm interested to see how this goes over the next couple of months. Agency responce times are anywhere from one day to four months. Many of the agencies only respond if they are interested in hearing more from you. Most will send you a standard rejection.

It's going to be important to me not to let rejections get me down. I mentioned in the last post that my chances of being asked even for a partial are around 1 in every 200, give or take. If I keep getting more and more rejections I'm in the very real danger of getting depressed and discouraged. I can't let this happen. During this time I'm going to do a couple of subsequent edits on Promise and I'll also be moving back for my rewrite of Drums. This means I have lots of work to do and can't afford to get depressed.

I have often felt that I went about Butcher in the wrong way. I submitted to a single editor and only sent out maybe seven agent queries. The response I got from that editor was that he was not interested--there were a few flaws in my storytelling but that I was a very good writer and to keep at it and that another editor might actually like the book enough to buy it. Of course, instead of being energized and excited I fell off of my writing for half a year or more. I didn't send out any further queries or submit the manuscript to other editors. I just let it gather dust, wallowing in my video games.

Not gonna happen this time. I hope. I know the book is good. I know my writing is quality. I just have to keep at it until I get an agent. And if that never happens, I have to keep at my writing to make it better.