Querying and Contests

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Soo.... what to do, what to say. It's that awkward time in a writer's life where she's sending her novel out to agents and hearing nothing in return. How to turn that into a conversation starter?Well, here's an update on my progress. According to my beautiful tracker, I've submitted to 17 agents. Of those 17, 4 rejected my submission, 5 failed to respond in their estimated window so I consider closed, 7 haven't responded but still have time left, and 1 - my darling Caitie Flum, of Liza Dawson Associates - requested a partial submission, 50 pages. She made that request 3 days after I queried her.1 out of 17 is a pretty terrible response rate - under 6%. According to people online, I should be getting 10-20% of agents requesting pages based on my query and opening pages. Everyone tells me my opening pages are strong - including the hypercritical folks on Reddit's destructive readers forum - so I'm going to assume my query's the problem. I've also had folks help me out with the query I've been using, but it's clearly not up to snuff.In better news! Author Mentor Match accepted me as a mentee, yay! I'm not sure whether they were competitive,* but I'm thrilled to get another beta read, and one who has been published multiple times -- J. Albert Mann has offered to mentor me, and frankly, she sounds amazing. She's a very experienced and trained writer, has mentored before, and really loves historical fiction. I can't wait to get started.So there's a nugget of goodness! Just like the preying mantis in the pic of rocks above, I hid a pleasant surprise in this post for anyone rooting for me. <3*Well I just found the world of AMM on Twitter and it turns out, yep! It was competitive! Then damn, it's an honor. <3