I pulled the trigger today. [Er, Sunday when I wrote this.] After months of fussing to make my novel Bad Policy as polished as I could, after sweating over what to put in and what to take out of the synopsis (should someone ask for it), after multiple drafts of a query letter to entice agents to ask to read the manuscript, I sent out the first agent query today.
And all that work was really the easiest part—if we’re talking about preserving self-esteem.
I’ve already discussed the despair I can reach during the long editing process [read I hate my WIP], but I’ve gotten through that dark winter night to be faced with writing the “query letter.” According to advice at Folio Literary Agency, “If you, as a writer, can truly write, if you’ve really learned your craft so that writing is like breathing, the cover letter just comes out.”
Perhaps the agent who wrote that sentence has personally written dozens of successful query letters. Or maybe the quote from Folio is similar to me (a guy) telling a woman that giving birth is a breeze if she’ll just remember to breathe correctly. And if she can’t do that easily, perhaps she ought not be a mother.
No matter, I finally have a query letter I think is good. And now I am strapping on my esteem-protection-padding for the rejections that will come through a polite email, in an SASE or by way of terminal silence. I tell all who will listen that this is a business where many knock and few are asked to enter. I say rejection is all about their needs and very little about the quality of my stellar novel. But that’s bullshit. You know and I know that I want them to love it. I want them to fight over me.
Hey, I’m a numbers guy; I know better. Many people are writing. Now that it’s free to submit queries by email (it used to cost a couple of bucks to send off a query and a sample chapter or two) everyone who thinks they have a finished novel is inundating the agents. And I know that the first person who reads my query is looking for a reason to say no. From a probabilistic standpoint, I have much less than a 1% chance of being selected—of course, I did mention that my particular novel is stellar, didn’t I?
I ping pong between flights of fantasy of a bidding war and wonderment that I waste my time polishing words few will read and none remember in some nearby future.
So what am I going to do tomorrow after I send out another query letter? I’m going to write at least a page of my dystopian novel that’s in its first draft, and then I’m going to pick up the completed first draft of a sequel to Bad Policy and wrestle it into an excellent story so when an agent asks, “what else are you working on?” I can tell them without a hem or haw.
If you happen to believe in the interconnected universe, then I’d appreciate it if you’d spare me a positive thought or two. I’ll do the same for you when you need it.