Submitting and what it's taught me


I've submitted my query to 8 agents -- my first round. I intended to submit to 12 agents, but 4 of them closed to submissions or vanished since I created my query list. Five query letters went out last week; no response yet. Three more went out today.Things I've learned in querying so far:

  • Expect turnover - agents closing to submissions, moving agencies, etc. I created a list of 50 agents that I thought would last me 6 months of submitting; now I'm not so sure.
  • Don't expect replies. Like, ever.
  • Most agents ask for the first 10 pages, or first 25 or first three chapters, to be included along with the query. This makes it hard to determine if it's your query or your opening pages that suck.
  • Each submission takes 15-30 minutes. That's after I've researched the agent and added them to my list. For each query, I read the agent's bio, review submission guidelines, check out their Twitter for announcements about closing to submissions or any other hints of their interests, and browse the web for interviews in which they might indicate their preferences -- if they want personalized or story-focused queries, if they're looking for a particular type of story, etc. Then I read and reread the query about a dozen times before sending.
  • The business-y end of submitting is fun. I love my agent tracker spreadsheet, I love tailoring the emails and hitting send and inputting the updates into my tracker. I don't love the rejection. Shocker.

I'm just getting started, so I guess I've got a shit-ton more to learn, given that I've learned all the above -- and more -- before ever interacting with an agent. ;-)In the meantime, I'm doing like a good girl and focusing on another piece. It's the novel I nicknamed Diagnosis, mentioned on my Books page. It doesn't really work as a novel -- it has some essential structural/logical flaws that I fear will doom it -- but for now, it's a refuge.PS: The featured image here is of a dear friend after hiking Breakneck Ridge in Cold Spring...and I believe it accurately expresses my emotional state, if you imagine that the rock she's clinging to represents my hopes of validation and publication. ;-)