I've spent this first week of 2010 working on sending out a query to an agent. Sending out are the important words in that sentence. If I don't send my work to prospective agents, it won't get noticed, it won't become published. Actually I've been working on this for some time.
I used the Writer's Market book quite a bit to get started. The process was simple, but slow. I came up with a dozen names/agents who seemed interested in the type of books I write. Checking for agents from the web or from other author's acknowledgement pages worked great too. Once I had a working list of names, I visited their sites. I spent a great deal of time making my own check list of "this one might be interested, this one is a definite no." Some of the things I looked for: genre interest, book lengths, other books they sold, and their comments were very important as well. I don't go for personalities that are sarcastic or have a biting edge to their humor. I considered it a personality conflict and moved on. The other thing I did was kept a list of YES/NO prospects in this stage. No sense researching the same names a month from now because I simply forgot I'd already checked into them. So keeping records of the paths I've ventured down work well for me.
With my list of prospective names, I chose my top three, then the one I wanted to send to first. I revisited their website paying particular attention to the submission requirements. Most of my top ten preferred e-mail queries. It was now up to me to put my work before them in a professional way.
I'm not sure which was more challenging to write, the query letter or the brief synopsis. The query needed a hook, while the synopsis required straightforward details. When I wrote my snyopsis, I first listed the five most important things that happened in my book. Once I had the backbone of my story, I addressed each in a simple telling of point one through point five. What emerged was a concise outline in written form. With a little more tweaking, the outline became my synopsis.
I wanted my query to explain my book in a few intriguing words or sentences. I pondered my characters personalities, trying to decide what made them unique. It took awhile, but I finally realized my characters all had a common trait: fear. One was afraid for his family, afraid of his own actions, and another feared her past would be discovered. Even the minor characters feared being unloved and forgotten. I used this knowledge to form my elevator pitch, my hook for my query letter.
I made sure my Bio was updated and critiqued my first dozen pages of my manuscript to be sure I hadn't missed something. I put everything in a format to send to the email address of the agent. I rechecked the submission requirements and decided I'd done what I could on this end.
Pushing the SEND button was thrilling and sickening at the same time. I don't know if sending my material out will ever become easier. I've been doing this for several years. I'm used to rejection notes. I remind myself I want only an agent who is truly excited about my work. Mediocre interest is worse than no agent. It's a waste of time and no one accomplishes anything. Rejection slips serve the purpose of "don't dwell here, move on!" Many agencies stated if one does not hear from them within a certain amount of time, the writer may assume they are not interested. I actually like this policy. I hate waiting around for someone to find time to read my material. My time is important too.
So, deep breath here; I have started down the path of finding an agent. I'll keep you posted on how things go. I'm realistic enough to know it may take awhile. But the dreamer in me hopes for a miracle. A little of God's favor would be really nice. It would be awesome!
Til next time ~