Choo Choo, the Rejection Train, aka Querying

Imperial_Limited,_Canadian_Pacific_Railway_(Howden,_Boys'_Book_of_Locomotives,_1907)It’s time once again to get on the daily Rejection Train. I’m getting ready to take my manuscript and subject it to the scrutiny of overworked agents who have to decide if it’s better to ignore, reject or read my manuscript based on a few paragraphs. It’s painful on this end but I imagine it’s not exactly fun on their end either. I try as best I can to effectively communicate in 300 words the 60,000 words in the novel. They have to see something in the shorthand version that resonates with them.

IMG_1345So since I started querying, THE PHANTOM FUNERAL COACH, I’ve tried to learn how to most effectively query. With a lot of help and research, the most effective thing I can tell is personalizing the query for each agent. Its funny to me that the other writers I’ve known will research, research, research what belt buckle is correct for their 1960’s period novel, but won’t take a second to research agents. Agents I’ve noticed are pretty clear about what they are looking for. They post it on Twitter, personal blogs, their pages on agency websites, interviews and a myriad of all sorts of trade publications and sites. That’s not even mentioning the seminars and conferences they all go to. The agent for you is out there and they told you already if you just bother to look.

The problem on the writer’s end is still the luck of the draw. A query letter is brief and altogether insufficient to communicate any nuance in your work. The synopsis is too dry to show the heart of your creation and ten pages are just the beginning of a journey, so the challenge for the writer is a big one. Convince someone who doesn’t know you and doesn’t have the time to get to know you to want to know you and your work. Its a formula I’m still trying to master and will continue to work on.

I’ve queried near twenty-five agents since last July. I’ve been selective after my researching each one. I’ve responded to the #MSWL on twitter to folks asking for exactly my story to little avail. The most frustrating part is the form letters or the no response at all. It’s weird how that makes a response containing constructive criticism or any sort of guidance a reason for celebration. So to the agents out there that said no but offered advice and guidance, may God bless you always.

When I got my first manuscript request, I’m not going to lie, I whooped and hollered and did a little victory dance. I’m still waiting to hear back from them and that was a while back, but I’m still excited to have crossed that threshold. I’m not sitting still however, I will query until I have the right agent for my book. The cycle continues, research, query, wait. If any agents are reading this, the form letters are better than no response, but one sentence could help a writer in their quest more than you fathom. So if at all possible let us know what we could do better.

It’s time to bother some more agents. I’m sending out a fresh batch of queries and who knows, this might be the time I hook an agent. Wish me luck.

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