Giving Birth to My 9th Child
I apologize for my absence, but I’ve been writing and editing for the past six months—consulting with my development editor and my beta readers. Finally, I’ve given birth to another literary baby. I’m so excited about this new work, and I can’t wait to introduce it to the world. However, depending on the outcome, it may be a while before I can do the latter. It’s my dream to land a traditional book deal for my baby and that’s more than a notion. It’s definitely a process.
At the present time, I’m seeking literary representation. In order to get the attention of the big publishing houses, I need an agent to advocate on my behalf. I need someone to fall in love with and believe in my baby. The search for an agent can be elusive at best and maddening at worst. Writing is so subjective, and one person’s literary masterpiece can be another person’s literary monstrosity. I’m hoping my work won’t fall in the latter category.
So far I’ve sent out a handful of query letters, and I’m waiting to get responses. Agents sometimes respond with silence and when they do so, it can be interpreted as a tacit decline. Most writers detest the silent treatment, but over the years I’ve come to appreciate how busy agents are and that they’re inundated with submissions from writers. They would never get anything done if they took the time to answer every query even if they sent form letters. Some agents receive an average of 300 query letters per week. That’s a lot of email. Then there are those who find the time to respond. Whenever I receive an email with “query” in the subject line I’m overcome with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Will this be a request for the first 50 pages of my manuscript (a partial) or perhaps they want the whole enchilada (a full)? Or is this going to be a rejection letter? Invariably if the first phrase in the email is “Thank you,” they’re not interested.
“Thank you for thinking of me, but I am not a good fit for this...”
“Thank you so much for allowing our agency…project not a good fit…”
“Thank you for letting me take a look. I’m afraid…”
I’m not sure why agents tend to start their rejection letters with “Thank you.” Perhaps, it’s a way to soften the blow, to show that they appreciated that the writer took the time to reach out to them, to show that querying the agent wasn't a complete waste of time.
Then there are the “yes” emails. Those are the ones that make your belly flip in a good way. They’re the emails that make your imagination run wild. What if this agent ends up liking my book? What if they get me that ultimate six-figure book deal? What if my book hits The New York Times best seller’s list? What if it’s optioned for a movie? When I’m bombarded with thoughts like these, I simmer down and get back to reality. Lol. Like the rejection emails, the acceptance emails open with a similar phrase.
“I would be happy to read the first 50 pages…”
“This sound promising! Please send as an attachment…”
“This sounds interesting and we’re happy to consider…”
You don’t get "thank you," but you get something better-- a buoyant welcoming phrase, one that’s filled with hope that your manuscript might be the next “Gone Girl” or “Girl on the Train.” On an aside, I should have found a way to incorporate the word “girl” in my title. Lol!
Once you submit a partial or full to an agent, then you have to play the waiting game. This part of the process can result in you gnawing your nails to the quick. I find the best thing to do is catch-up on blogging and or to start a new book!
If I’m blessed to land an agent the first thing I’m going to do is thank God, then scream, then get ready to get busy. The agent may want me to make revisions and if so, I’m going to jump right to it. Once the manuscript is in tip top shape, the agent will begin submitting it to publishing houses. Then it’s time to play the waiting game again, but this time you’re not alone. Your agent is rooting for you. You may get some rejections and if you’re one of the elect few, you may get an offer, even multiple offers. Then there will be a bidding war. The best offer wins. I’m getting ahead of myself. Right now, the goal is to land representation. I just pray that some agent out there in agent land will find my baby to be as loveable and marketable as I see it. If I can accomplish that, I’m half way to the literary finish line!