Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Finding an agent
In 2008, I purchased the latest edition of Novel and Short Stories Writer's Market. I went through the entire section of agents, highlighted those that might be interested in my book, and began writing queries. I looked up all the information I could find on how to write the best query letters. I paid close attention to what each agent wanted, because they all had different requirements. Some accepted queries via email, some did not and had to be sent through snail mail. Total, I sent to 15 agents. Total rejections: 14. One I never heard back from.
After that, I was discouraged. I didn't want to give up exactly, but I was seriously questioning the quality of my work and I took a break. In the next couple of years, I finished grad school and got married, and I edited my manuscript a few times but never made any serious changes. And in 2010, I tried again.
Again, I used the Writer's Market book, and again I wrote and rewrote my query letter according to the different standards each agent required. More agents accepted e-queries this time, which was thankfully easier and cheaper. However I also noticed this time that the majority said specifically that if I did not hear back from them, then the answer was a no. They wouldn't be sending a courtesy rejection letter. Total again, I sent to 15 agents, all different than my first round. Total rejections: 6. The other 9 I never heard back from.
And so ended my search for an agent. Typing it out like this, it seems like I didn't try very hard. 30 agents, big deal; surely I could have found more to try. And probably I could. But finding agents who specifically represent young adult fantasy novels and who are accepting queries from unpublished authors is more difficult than it sounds. And navigating all the different requirements of each, which usually I wouldn't mind and almost treat as a challenge, is time-consuming, especially when you're at the point of expecting either no reply at all or a short, canned-response rejection for your efforts.
Though I had read and been told over and over again that finding an agent was the only way to be reputably published, and that self-publishing was for terrible, unreadable writers who couldn't take a hint... I decided that I was tired of having this finished manuscript sit dormant on my computer. I read that it was easy to publish on Kindle, so, I decided to go for it.
In my next entry, I'll detail the steps I took to do so.