For those new to the publishing process, which I was—am, really—the hard part is not actually writing the book. It’s the wretched query letter.
Part synopsis, part marketing hook, part résumé, total sales pitch, the query letter is the bait you provide to hook an agent’s interest in reading your work, and ultimately representing you. Get it wrong, and in as little as 30 seconds, all your effort (in my case, eight years of plodding plotting) ends up in the virtual trash bin. Get it right, and all your effort will likely end up in the virtual trash bin. But get it right, and pair it with a solid first 10 pages, and all your effort…might still end up in the virtual trash bin.
I wrote and rewrote and revised and overhauled and scrapped and rewrote my query letter before finally getting a professional eye on it (props to Manuscript Academy and specific gratitude to @HeddaFlaherty). Armed with a couple of concrete suggestions, I composed a query letter that for the first time, felt right. It was clear without over sharing, engaging without over promising. I liked it.
I wasted no time. Did some research and identified five new agents whose interests and references seemed to align with my style and proposed market.
Here’s the thing: the radio silence of an agent you’ve pitched to is deafening. You really don’t know if what you’ve sent was received let alone read, or if an intern decided your name sounds like that creepy Algebra teacher she had in eighth grade and didn’t even open it.
That had most often been my experience: no reply, no interest. But then, something glorious happened. I received a response from one of the five. She was intrigued by the story idea and asked to read the first 50 pages of my manuscript.
You hear that? No, I don’t either. But apparently, I should expect the radio silence for 3-6 months before hearing back…if I hear back at all. That’s just how it goes, I’m learning. So I’m back to researching agents and sending out and waiting.
But regardless of what happens next, I’m pleased. Even that small validation is enough to maintain the spark.
Naturally, you’ll be among the first to know if anything changes.