The Adventures of Querying Continue

Hello, all.

Thank you for sticking with me these days. I hope you’re enjoying some of my other material while we anxiously await news of my query letters. I’ve got book reviews, short fiction, and haiku to distract me (and you) from the elephant in the room. Is that the right use of that expression?

It doesn’t matter.

Some exciting news this week! I’ve had one other agent request a partial of my manuscript. I had to snail mail it to him, which was expensive, so I hope I don’t have to do that too often. But there was something much more real about stuffing my manuscript into an envelope than there is in emailing them, and I think that was the first moment I really felt like “I’m doing this!”. It was kind of cool.

I’ve also had a request for a full manuscript from a small publishing press! That’s my first request for a full, which I’m totally stoked about. It’s kind of backwards, as I had wanted to score an agent before submitting to publishers. But I have found a few publishers who accept unsolicited and un-agented works from new writers, so I’m going to try my luck with them too.

My hope is that, if a small press offers me a deal, I can use that deal to land an agent. Apparently agents are a little more eager to represent clients who already have an interested party. And why not? At that point it’s essentially free money for them, right? Well, not exactly, I guess. But sometimes finding a publisher is the hardest part of the job for an agent. I’ve heard tales of writers who finally found an agent, only to discover that it sometimes takes years for an agent to land you a book deal.

Zoiks!

I can only hope that won’t be me. Anyways, I’ve also sent off a full to another small press: one that doesn’t take queries, it just takes the MS right off the bat. That’s exciting, but it’s not as cool as having someone read your query and then actually ask to see more. I’m also printing off another hard copy to send to an imprint of Penguin books that—miraculously—accepts unsolicited complete manuscripts. It’s a long shot, but DAW would be a pretty major publisher to land without an agent, so I’m going to bite the bullet and ship my MS to them (another $25 “invested,” at least!).

I feel like I have a better chance with agents and publishers who take full manuscripts instead of partials. When an agent requests a partial, it’s usually only 20-50 pages of your work. I guess I’m a little insecure about the beginning of my novel, but the narrative style is a little unusual and I’m not sure that 50 pages is enough to “get it”.

Those of you who’ve been beta readers for me can feel free to jump in and assuage my fears anytime, now.

But anyways, I’ll keep you posted. If anyone knows of any super-awesome SF small presses, let me know in the comments.

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10 thoughts on “The Adventures of Querying Continue

  1. This is an exciting development. I’m not sure about whether or not your style can be “gotten” in the first 20 – 50 pages. I often feel a little unsure about books when I start reading them. But usually, I’m drawn in by the characters and before I know it, I’m hooked and the style becomes less important than the character development and plot. I do appreciate a beautifully written passage while I’m reading it but it would be after reading the whole thing that I might evaluate the style. But then again, I’m not an agent or a publisher, so what do I know?

    1. You’re a reader, though. And hopefully and agent/publisher is thinking about the experience of the reader. It’s really hard to say.

      I definitely feel like I have a better chance with the whole thing sitting in front of them. I know I have one rogue copy of my MS at a friend’s place right now and two separate guests of hers have picked it up and read it front to back during their stay, so I guess it must be engaging enough.

      But the beginning is the part I’m most insecure about, so I just continue to obsess over it. Maybe because it’s the oldest. I’ve re-worked it more than any part of the MS and it’s been around in one form or another from the very beginning.

      We’ll see, though. Like I’ve been saying, if this batch doesn’t turn anything up I’ll look at the whole project again with fresh eyes and go from there. No sense trying to change what I’ve already submitted before I hear a yay or nay. Right?

  2. Congrats! I hope your writing endeavors are successful. Wow, I didn’t know anyone used snail mail anymore – seems they could’ve requested that you email a pdf – guess the more work you do, the less they have to. Best of luck!

    1. Thanks! And I know. I’m kind of suspicious about publishers who haven’t discovered email yet. But I think it’s just a way of limiting submissions. Email makes it too easy for half-assed writers to fill up the slush pile with junk manuscripts, I guess.

  3. Good luck! Not sure if you covered this in an earlier post or not but did you do a mass query? Not one agent at a time? It does make sense but I’ve always been a little scared to do that. And I was just thinking about skipping over the agent search and going straight to publishers. I’ve heard you can get a lawyer to do everything an agent does and not have to pay them 15% for the rest of your life!

    1. Thank you! And I haven’t covered the topic of mass querying. All resources I’ve looked up highly recommend not doing it, although it certainly takes time to query one agent at a time. I’ve kind of come up with a happy medium. I don’t try to tailor my query too specifically to the agent or agency, unless they represent an author who I legitimately feel my work is similar too. And realistically, even this is hard information to find because of the ways that most agency websites are set up. You can’t find an author’s name unless you are looking specifically for it!

      As for submitting to publishers, I’ve been doing a bit of that. But unfortunately, even some small press publishers won’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. The heavy hitters definitely don’t. With the exception of Baen and Penguin, as far as I can tell. If you’re satisfied with a small first run, then this might be a better way to go. And if that’s all I can get, I’ll take it. But my dream is to find an agent to pitch my book to the Big 5.

      That’s a great point about finding a lawyer to handle your rights. If you go straight to a publisher, that would likely be a really good option.

      Thanks for reading, and stay tuned as I keep updating my list here 🙂

      1. How do you choose which agents to query? By the agent’s preference/personality or who the agent has worked with? Or both?

        At one point I did have a short list of agents that seemed compatible with my style of writing but I’ve since changed computers and lost track of it.

        I did read somewhere that you should look in the book of an author you love and take note of who their agent and publisher are. Which sounds like great advice, I think. Just so happens that my favorite author’s agent isn’t very forthcoming with information. They’re not even accepting queries at the moment.

        From my research, you’re right about the odds of getting to the Big 5 without an agent. Not likely. So, I’ve decided that I’m going to pursue the query process while taking steps to self-publish. I’m a “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” kinda chick apparently. Or else I suffer from indecision …

        Good luck to us both! I will stay tuned to see how things pan out for you.

        1. Argh!
          I just wrote you a long-winded reply and somehow managed to delete it when I hit send…
          Long story short, check out the websites Query Tracker and Agent Query to help you find an agent that represents your particular genre. Literary Fiction agents are a dime a dozen, but if you write genre fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, horror, romance, crime thrillers, etc.) you’ll have to find an agent who represents that kind of work. Also, these websites will help you narrow your search to agents who accept e-queries, which is a huge bonus. I’m amazed at how many agencies do everything by snail mail!

          So far, I’ve avoided the self-publishing route. But I will pursue it if my other queries are unsuccessful. The trouble with self-publishing is that, unless you sell over 3000 copies (which is a lot, from what I can tell in the self-publishing world) it won’t help you land an agent. And many publishers are not interested in work that has previously been self-published. Although it might help you build a fanbase for your next novel, and there’s definitely something to be said for that!

          Good luck, and have fun! This is an exciting process.

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