Finding An Agent Without Losing Your Mind — Part 1
by Writing Workshops Org Admin
A year ago
This year was going to be my year. I was going to do things differently. I was going to stop ignoring the things I’d been ignoring. I was going to fix the things that needed fixed. And I was going to find an agent for my darn book. Luckily, I’d just finished my manuscript—my seventh. The first six were all different variations of “good” and “sellable.” They were necessary and taught me a lot, but by the goddess, I finally had a winner.
I’d been writing this manuscript for three years. (Mind you, four months after I started it, we thought our 3-year-old had cancer, so a lot was going on.) I’d gotten stuck and rewritten it two times. But I’d finally typed The End, and it was as close to a masterpiece as I’d ever had. I cried tears of madness and joy. Now I would finally get an agent!
I’d tried finding an agent a few times before. And by “a few times,” I mean with every manuscript I finished. Basically, for the last twenty years, I’ve been trying to find an agent. Like many authors, I can’t stand the absolute horror that is querying. I would submit for a few months then quit—sometimes after only my first rejection. But 2019 was going to be different! I was going to submit and get rejected and keep submitting until I found the one!
Even though this manuscript was a masterpiece, I’d been writing it for what felt like 800 years, so I knew it could probably use a little editing. I contacted a pro, and she did an edit of the first 100 pages of my 900 page, 150K word thriller. I got those edits back, horrifying, but not impossible. What was another rewrite? I’d already done plenty! Four months later, and the next rewrite was done. I’d shaved off 50k words, and this thing was TIGHT.
Since the August prior, I’d been Twitter stalking my number one pick for an agent. She seemed smart and funny, and it was clear her and her agents were hard workers and up on the industry. And, she was looking for manuscripts like mine. Perfect! We were meant to be! I was ready. So, after polishing up my masterpiece of a query letter, I submitted to her.
The rejection hit my inbox not two hours later. I was sure it was some kind of mistake. I was sure someone had installed a virus on their submission portal to automatically reject everything but say it was “thoughtfully considered.” I was mortified. I had to pull out every coping strategy I’ve ever learned. I reminded myself, “Your children don’t have cancer. You have a roof over your head. You have a good life.” But I couldn’t get over my book, my masterpiece, being rejected so horribly; over ME being rejected so horribly. It was only day one, and I already decided to quit querying.
But then, on day two, I cracked open my laptop and realized maybe my query letter wasn’t exactly a masterpiece. I read through the last few years of submissions on Query Shark (hadn’t done that in a while) and then edited mine again—a lot. I also booked a ten-minute query critique, through Manuscript Academy, with an agent to find out what she thought. I edited my query even more based on her feedback. I cried, hated myself, hated my writing, hated the cruel universe.
After a few months and five more versions of my query letter, I was getting closer. I kept thinking, “This is the one!” and almost believed it. Now, it’s time for round two. Will I ever find the agent of my dreams before I lose my mind trying? Stick around to find out in Part 2! (Coming soon)