Finding An Agent Without Losing Your Mind — Part 2
by Writing Workshops Org Admin
A year ago
This was going to be my year. This would be the year I found an agent. It was now try number two with my latest manuscript and heavily edited query letter. Already having faced a rejection from my first pick of agents, I decided to send out six more queries in June. I got a form rejection from one and never heard from the others. I edited my query letter again. But it wasn’t enough. Maybe I should have someone else take a look at my manuscript, too. I mean, it was a masterpiece in my mind, but what could it hurt?
I exchanged the first 100 pages with two critique partners and received some really valuable feedback—manuscript changing feedback. So, I rewrote the first act of the book again. Bonus, I shaved off another 10k words. I was down to industry standards and no longer had to worry about word count killing my query. Rewrite number five was much better. It reignited my enthusiasm, and I was back to my mad quest to get an agent for this darn book. I mean, by now, it had to be a masterpiece, right?
I started harboring secret plans to enter Pitch Wars. I become obsessed with their website. I dreamed about a still-unnamed mentor helping make my publishing dreams come true. I had two months until the submission window opened. I contacted my favorite freelance editor again and sent her my first 30 pages, my query letter, and my one-page synopsis to get them all polished up. Apparently, I had actually learned to write sometime in the last seven months and got very few suggested edits back—good news for me.
While I waited for Pitch Wars to start, I sent out nine more queries. This is the most I’ve ever sent out (to date) without quitting. I was finally doing something differently and taking steps to turn 2019 into the best year yet! And then… No replies. No spam messages. Crickets. To make sure my email was working, I sent myself emails from my other accounts. I sent a query to every possible email address I have access to. My email was working fine.
Pitch Wars opened, and I submitted on the first day. Well… the first night. I didn’t want to seem needy. My fingers were mysteriously frozen so that I could barely type. I felt like I wanted to throw up afterward. But I did it; I finally hit submit. Of course, I immediately started checking my email to see which mentors were requesting more of my masterpiece. But it’s all a waiting game.
To keep myself occupied, I sent out more queries. The first weekend after Pitch Wars submissions closed, I checked my email every hour. Nothing. No spam messages. More crickets. For giggles, I went back to Query Shark and submitted to her for a public critique. To keep myself sane, I edited my query AGAIN. I think I ended up changing my last two sentences 600 times.
I was going to go nuts if I kept this up. So, I put everything away but my smartphone, packed up one of my cute kids and went to visit my 98-year-old grandmother for the weekend. We watched Hallmark movies and enjoyed being together with the people we love. I missed my laptop like you would miss an arm, but I told myself distance makes the heart grow fonder. I only checked my email once or twice. Again, nothing. No spam messages. Even more crickets.
The next day, an epiphany. I needed to rebrand my book. The working title had been the same through five rewrites. It was great for version one, but that’s not really what the book was about anymore. Plus, it didn’t sound very thriller-ish. I also had the wild idea to build my author website. I mean, I needed something to do now that my masterpiece was done, and all I had left was waiting for query responses.
I got right to work. I put my masterpiece front and center on my site as if it was already published and I was marketing the hell out of it. I wrote witty things about myself on my about page. The confidence boost inspired me to send out another query. I would try again with my number one agency (the one that rejected me in two hours six months prior), but I choose a different agent.
I figured I have a different book now, it might be a different outcome. Guess what? I got another “thoughtfully considered” rejection in two hours. I laughed and gave my computer the finger. They obviously didn’t see the masterpiece my manuscript really was… or they were just really efficient.
Not giving up, I made one more tweak to the last sentence of my query. I bought a copy of Save the Cat! Writes a Novel to check my masterpiece. I sent out two more queries, promoting my shiny new author website at the bottom. I joined two Pitch Wars Rejects support groups, which offered to match me up with new critique partners. I researched what agents to submit to next.
As I write this article, Pitch Wars is about to close and still no emails. No spam messages. Just those darn crickets. But I’m moving on. I will continue to write. I will continue to query. And if I’m lucky, I may just find an agent before I lose my mind. We’ll have to see what happens next.
Author Bio: Dyan is the author of seven manuscripts that have, so far, never seen the light of day. She also has two self-published children’s books inspired by her daughter’s genetic disorder (NF1)— Amazing Annabelle: A Story for Kids Fighting Cancer and S is for Surgery: A Kids Surgery Book from A-Z. When she’s not busy being a wife and mom, she can be found banging her head into her desk and occasionally getting some good ideas to come out. She can be found at dyancfox.com or on Twitter @DyanFoxWrites