They Said it's All Been Done, But They Haven't Seen the Best of Me

If my life is a song, right now it’s “High Hopes” by Panic! at the Disco on repeat.

I alluded to the epic high I’ve been riding this week in an Instagram post the other day, but let me just tell you all about it. As you already know, last week an agent reached out asking to read my first three chapters. At that point, my success-total was: 1 agent with my first 50 pages, 1 agent with my full manuscript, and now 1 agent with my first 3 chapters.

Last weekend, that same agency reached back out asking for more. After reading three chapters, they wanted to read the whole thing. Cue squeals and happy-dancing around my kitchen until my husband gently reminded me we *do* have neighbors. New total: 1 agent with 50 pages, 2 agents with the full MS.

Then, earlier this week, that last agent responded, complimenting my writing, and asked. for. the. full. thing.

I’m trying to maintain a grasp on my sanity by reminding myself this is no guarantee of representation. They could all read it and decide it’s not so great, or needs too much work, or doesn’t fit the market, or any number of things. Only one of them gave me a timeline for when I might hear back, and it was 6 months because they’re so swamped, so I could be biting my nails until the summer or later.

But, damn, I’m feeling good right now. I’ve created something enticing enough that people asked for more–people whose job it is to read piles and piles of books. I know this feeling will fade as the year continues and the waiting game begins, but I hope I don’t lose the pride I have in myself for getting this far.

Query Update – January 2020

As of now, my full manuscript is still with an agent, and TWO other agents have my partial story. That’s right, my first response of the new year was a request rather than rejection, which is a lovely way to start 2020! I don’t have a timeframe for when I’ll hear back—if I’ve learned anything, it’s that agents are swamped with queries and clients plus other jobs to pay the bills, so patience is key (and pretending to forget your manuscript is pending is essential for maintaining sanity).

So, deep breath, Blood and Water is still kicking out there, and I’m working on her sequel so at the very least I’ll have a completed story someday, published or not. Crossed fingers, earnest prayers, and positive vibes are still and always most welcome!

High Hopes

Querying is hard. That’s kind of a no-brainer–crafting a business letter to basically say “I promise my story is good, please give me a chance!” is as bad as writing a cover letter for a job (I mean, essentially, it’s the same thing). For me, it’s been disheartening and nerve-wracking and left me wanting to pull my hair out. I wrote a freaking novel–please don’t make me condense the plot into a single-page synopsis!

Sending out queries is terrifying, too, because I don’t know if the base of my letter is any good. I’ve poured over blogs and revised, revised, revised, and I *think* I’ve got a decent hook and capture the stakes and introduce the conflict in three short paragraphs, but I won’t know if it’s enough until the requests start rolling in. And when they *don’t* roll in, I can’t be sure if it’s that my query letter isn’t strong, or my writing isn’t good, or my story isn’t appealing, or if it just doesn’t fit on that specific agent’s list at this point in time.

Guys, requests have NOT been rolling in.

Out of 23 agents queried thus far, I’ve received 10 rejections. That’s flirting dangerously close to 50%–and those other 13 aren’t guaranteed requests by any means. To make it harder, I received 5 of those rejections in the space of a few days.

And it’s fine–I understand that it only takes one “yes”, that Stephen King had hundreds of rejections nailed to his bedroom wall and Harry Potter was rejected over 30 times, that a pass doesn’t mean my writing is poor or my story not good enough…I know all that. It doesn’t make it suck any less, though, so I just want to wallow a bit.

But.

Last night, after two more “thanks but no thanks” emails, I was telling my husband I’m thinking of switching gears and returning to a WWII story I’ve been working on when it happened. An email notification was sitting on my phone’s home screen, and I recognized the name of another agent. My heart sank, even as I read the preview saying I provided a great writing sample. I expected to see the “but” as I clicked it open.

But nothing, baby! The agent requested 50 pages to keep reading.

This isn’t any more of a guarantee than any other step in the process, but it *is* the next step. And it feels amazing to know a professional read a snippet of my story and said “more, please!” Even if they end up passing, my confidence has been boosted enough to face down the next 10 rejections with minimal sulking.

Querying

Well, I did it! I sent out a query letter to a handful of agents! I’ve got to polish my synopsis and try to ease off tweaking my manuscript because it is time, baby!

Or maybe not–I’ve got another list of agents to query next week. I’m hedging my bets a little bit and leaving myself options if my query or first few pages don’t seem to hook anyone in this first round. There’s always room for improvement, so if I’m being completely honest, I’m not going to stop tweaking my query letter or my story until I start getting requests to read the full manuscript. I’m just really excited because that first step has been taken and, request or rejection, I’ve at least put my story out there.