As it’s now the New Year, I’m going to bet a lot of hopeful authors have finished polishing their MS and are ready to jump into the trenches. I know because that was me at the beginning of last year. What I wished I’d had at that time was this list of helpful resources which will tell you how to make your query sparkle, research agents, and how to deal with inevitable rejection. (It’s ok. We all face it, and it doesn’t mean you won’t make it. Just think of it as getting one step closer to the right agent/ editor for you.)
Step One: Research Agents
http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/ (MUST have membership for full access.)
Tips: I always try to find a few interviews from my prospective agents, to see if we’d be a good personality match. I also always look for a successful query for each agent to see what format they prefer. (My favorite website for that is below.)
Step Two: Perfect That Query
Here’s a great website to help you write your “blurb” or the meat of your query.
And of course the Query Shark and her ways to do (and not do) a query letter.
Writer’s Digest also offers webinars, usually priced at around $90, that often include a critique from a reputable agent! (So worth the money if you can splurge. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have updated their website yet this year, so keep checking back for an updated listing.)
Tips: Some agents post “how to write a query letter” or “query do’s” in their submission guidelines. ALWAYS READ THESE! Some of these agents won’t even consider your query if they can tell you didn’t. Also, keep an excel spreadsheet or something of the like to track your queries: who you’ve queried and when, what kind of response/request, response times, etc. This way you won’t accidentally query the same agent twice or nudge before an appropriate time, or query two agents at an agency that strictly says “querying one is querying all.”
Step Three: Going With the Flow
Part A) You got an AGENT! Congrats! Celebrate and help your CPs and Beta’s reach their goals too.
Or Part B) You’re getting rejections
Tips: I’m quite familiar with rejection. It’s only been recently that I’m seeing any kind of interest in my novel, but that’s okay. So if I could impart a few things that I’ve learned over the last year, they would be this:
One: Rejection can make you a better writer. Each time I got a rejection, I looked at how I could improve. If I got feedback, I took it seriously and tried to incorporate it when it fit my overall vision of the book. I’m definitely a stronger writer now than I was a year ago, and I’m hoping that’ll continue because I’m probably still going to be getting rejections, lol.
Two: Rejection doesn’t mean you’ll ultimately fail. EVERYONE gets rejections. Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and many other well known authors saw plenty of rejection before making it big.
And Three: Rejection hurts, but it makes the small victories even sweeter. I’m a firm believer that you can’t know happiness without having felt sorrow, sweet without tasting sour, and success without having been knocked on your arse a couple of times.
Just remember, it’ll be okay. Keep going, and we’ll all get there.
Good luck in the trenches everybody!