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Thread: Advice from those with agents?

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Talking Advice from those with agents?

    Hi everyone, I've been lurking for a long time and thought I'd be courageous and post a question.

    My situation: Out of 5 agents queried, 2 requested the full. One was an agent I met at a conference. I sent it to her after I finished polishing (about 3 months later) and got no response. I nudged her after 3 months, no reply.

    The other is a top agent. I queried her via email and she replied in an hour. (Wow!) It wasn't good timing for her, but she wanted to refer me to a colleague who requested the full. That was 1 month ago... I know it could be a long wait... Meanwhile I keep querying other agents because I don't know how to else to deal with being in purgatory.

    -----> QUESTIONS for those with agents:

    (1) Did you get your agent through regular query? At a conference? Some other way?

    (2) How did you learn of your agent?

    (3) How long did you wait after agent requested the full?

    (4) How many agents did you query? How long did it take?

    I'm interested to hear your stories! Any advice or helpful tips you can share with the rest of us?

    Thanks for reading.
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  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW Wisteria Vine's Avatar
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    Hi, Javamonkey!

    The waiting...that is the WORST! But definitely keep querying until you get an agent. If you wait a month here, two months there, three months here, you'll be waiting years before you find one you like.

    As for your questions:


    (1) Did you get your agent through regular query? At a conference? Some other way?

    I've had two agents and I got them both by regular query.

    (2) How did you learn of your agent?

    The first was referred to me; a friend heard her present at a conference. The second time I actually queried a junior agent I'd read about here, but she passed me on up to her boss and her boss signed me.

    (3) How long did you wait after agent requested the full?

    I heard within a week for the second one; I heard within two weeks for the first.

    (4) How many agents did you query? How long did it take?

    I queried about 25 agents both times. The whole process took several months - probably about five or six each time.

    I'm interested to hear your stories! Any advice or helpful tips you can share with the rest of us?


    Querying is a soul crushing business, so the best advice I can give is to be patient. Don't take any rejections too personally, and don't despair if you get close and it still doesn't happen for you. I can't count how many times I had an agent request the full only to decline it for one reason or another. You'll get there eventually, so don't give up.

    As for conferences, I haven't had much luck with those, so I'd also be interested in hearing others' experiences with agents they've met that way.

    Good luck with your ms, Javamonkey...keep at it!

  3. #3
    permanently suctioned to Buz's leg Putputt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by javamonkey View Post
    Hi everyone, I've been lurking for a long time and thought I'd be courageous and post a question.

    My situation: Out of 5 agents queried, 2 requested the full. One was an agent I met at a conference. I sent it to her after I finished polishing (about 3 months later) and got no response. I nudged her after 3 months, no reply.

    The other is a top agent. I queried her via email and she replied in an hour. (Wow!) It wasn't good timing for her, but she wanted to refer me to a colleague who requested the full. That was 1 month ago... I know it could be a long wait... Meanwhile I keep querying other agents because I don't know how to else to deal with being in purgatory.

    -----> QUESTIONS for those with agents:

    (1) Did you get your agent through regular query? At a conference? Some other way? Regular query.

    (2) How did you learn of your agent? I had a list of agents from ermm...somewhere. It may have been Editors & Preditors. No. That was the site I used to double check the list. I can't remember...sorry! (But it was a list I made after searching online, reading agents' blogs etc, so it's something anyone could come up with.)

    (3) How long did you wait after agent requested the full? My agent's fast. He requested the full a day after I queried...sent it on a Friday, got a response on Monday arranging for a time to call. But I've had fulls out for months. Had one who I didn't hear from ever again (it's been about 2 years now...). The others had them for weeks. Once I got an offer though, they came back to me within a day, either with an offer or a pass.

    (4) How many agents did you query? 47. How long did it take? One and a half years. When I first started, I sent out five queries. Two requested fulls. Never heard from the first one. The second one rejected but sent a 2-page, single-spaced document specifying why the story didn't work for her. I was just amazed. Gobfrigginsmacked. She's a top agent (she represents one of my favorite writers) at a big agency and to receive such in-depth critique from her...well, I pretty much pooped mah pants. I spent the next four months doing a major overhaul and when it was ready, I e-mailed her again, asking if she'd read it again. She said she'd love to! I sent it to her, along with queries to other agents. She came back a month later with the same thing: a "no" accompanied by extensive, in-depth notes on what didn't work for her this time. Went back to the drawing board for the next few months. Came back and asked her if she'd read it again. She said yes again! In the meantime, I continued querying other agents. Once I received an offer, I let the other agents with fulls know. The original agent who was kind enough to read the book 3 times came back with a hearty congratulations and told me that although she loved the writing and the world etc, she didn't fall in love with it, so she was going to pass. I asked her if she has any input about which agent to go for, and she recommended one of them...the one I ultimately signed with. My god, I got really lucky with the super patient agent. I hope I can thank her properly one day.

    I'm interested to hear your stories! Any advice or helpful tips you can share with the rest of us? Hmm...my advice would be to read up on queries. I queried before stumbling upon AW and, more specifically, QLH. I've learnt so much from QLH in the past few months. I shudder to think what might have been had I not been fortunate enough to come across the saintly agent who was sweet enough to tell what was crappy about my work.

    Thanks for reading.
    Umm yeah, that was an essay. Best of luck with your querying process!
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  4. #4
    Hopeful romantic/hopeless pedant ARoyce's Avatar
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    1) Regular query but...about 2 months into querying I also decided to submit to a few traditional pubs that accept unagented submissions. One of them offered me a deal, so I went back to agents who had a partial or full and updated them about the offer in hand.

    2) I'd been researching the publishing industry online for several years, and following a few agent blogs during that time. I also used AgentQuery and QueryTracker to get more info about agents who rep my genre. And then I did more online research about specific agents through their web sites and other sources.

    3) see answer #1. I can't remember how long I was waiting on requested material, but I'd been querying for two months when the offer in hand sped things up.

    4) approximately 40 agents. I definitely think my situation was not common. I was prepared to keep querying and waiting for quite a while. When I got the pub offer, I had a handful of requests from agents that I hadn't even begun thinking of nudging.

    Advice? In your case, i'd say keep doing what you're doing. That you'v gotten two requests out of five queries suggests to me that your query works. Keep querying. And keep writing! If you already have other books drafted, either keep honing them or start the next one.

    Good luck!!
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  5. #5
    Whatever I did, I didn't do it. Phaeal's Avatar
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    1) Did you get your agent through regular query? At a conference? Some other way?

    Regular query.

    (2) How did you learn of your agent?

    Internet research.

    (3) How long did you wait after agent requested the full?

    Less than a day.

    (4) How many agents did you query? How long did it take?

    281. A little over a year.

    And my tip is -- never give up. I didn't believe this until it happened to me: Keep hitting desks until you hit the right one. Worse case scenario: If you keep writing while querying, you should have another novel to pitch by the time you set the first one aside.
    Last edited by Phaeal; 01-23-2013 at 11:16 PM.
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  6. #6
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    1) Did you get your agent through regular query? At a conference? Some other way? I've had two agents, and got neither of them through regular queries. The first approached me after I gave a reading of a short story at a major SF&F convention. Our arrangement lasted about six years, but I wasn't good enough to write longer fiction for his preferred markets. The second agent I approached after getting an e-publisher's offer, when I knew I needed contract help. I was willing to sacrifice 15% of the ebook royalties to get access to her for my other work.

    (2) How did you learn of your agent? I'd never heard of my first agent, and was extremely new to publishing when we met in 1991. I knew about my second agent from internet research, and had met her at a writers' gathering. She didn't take unsolicited queries, so I had to wait until I had an offer and a couple of recommendations.

    (3) How long did you wait after agent requested the full? Not applicable in either case.

    (4) How many agents did you query? How long did it take? For my currently-in-revision epic fantasy I queried over 70 agents, got three partial requests and one full request, and no takers over a 2-year period. I queried 7 agents for my erotic romance space opera, and got no interest over a 2-month period. When I switched to e-publishers, I had an offer within a month.

    Tip: Don't give up. Use several different strategies to attract agent notice - as well as querying direct, try to enter reputable competitions, attend workshops, and comment intelligently on agent blogs. Go for the highest-quality agent or publisher first, and work your way down. My current agent is one of the best on my initial list, but I had to pay my dues on-sub before I could contact her.

  7. #7
    Hopeless Romantic taylormillgirl's Avatar
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    1. Regular query
    2. I stumbled across an interview with her on the Mother.Write.Repeat blog and it resonated with me so strongly that I queried her immediately.
    3. She offered rep a few weeks later.
    4. I lost count of how many agents I queried, but it was probably too many. I'd resolve to send a batch and wait, but I was too impatient to wait very long, so I kept sending more batches, lol. From start to finish, it took about 6 weeks.
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  8. #8
    Who's going for a beer? waylander's Avatar
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    1. Regular query
    2. Saw a PM announcement that he had just started agenting
    3. 3 days
    4. Well into 3 figures, took me 7 years

    As the other folks said - don't give up and write something different while you are querying.
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  9. #9
    My New Cat Is Too Big for Shoulders Corinne Duyvis's Avatar
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    (1) Did you get your agent through regular query? At a conference? Some other way?

    Regular query (though she first contacted me after seeing my query online). She requested the full the regular way, but her decision was sped up once I got a publication offer.

    (2) How did you learn of your agent?

    I saw her mentioned online quite a bit, all of it positive.

    (3) How long did you wait after agent requested the full?

    Four months-ish, after which I notified her of an offer of publication. After that, it didn't take long.

    (4) How many agents did you query? How long did it take?

    For this book, I think like... forty? I got some requests, but no one expressed serious interest. The entire process took about five months.

    For previous books, I queried twenty agents (and got an offer after a week) and ninety agents (got an offer after eight months). So it varies. A lot.
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  10. #10
    It all started with a little boo... wyntermoon's Avatar
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    Great question!

    (1) Did you get your agent through regular query? At a conference? Some other way?

    Regular query after Internet research

    (2) How did you learn of your agent?

    Agentquery.com

    (3) How long did you wait after agent requested the full?

    The next day

    (4) How many agents did you query? How long did it take?

    Eight total. Two requested fulls within ten minutes of sending the query. Total time: two weeks.

    I'm interested to hear your stories! Any advice or helpful tips you can share with the rest of us?

    Do your research before querying! I'm a nonfic humor writer with a toe in pop culture so I needed an agent that was well-versed in those markets. Please make sure you're querying the agent best for you and your work, it will save you days of frustration.

    When chatting with an agent (before the offer), get to know their big picture plans. Do they have a solid background in publishing? Do they have a background in marketing or are active in the literary scene of their area? They will be your partner in this crazy business, make sure they can keep up with you.

    Good luck!

  11. #11
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Wow! You guys are Fabulous!!

    I can't thank you enough for your replies and advice. It's all so inspiring-- esp. that you didn't give up. No matter how long it took.I appreciate all of your tips and advice... Good Karma points to all. :-)

    Congrats to all of you on your successes!!

    Thanks so much.
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  12. #12
    This will all make sense tomorrow
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    1. Regular query.
    2. Agent Query, Query Tracker, Preditors & Editors
    3. Full request four hours later
    4. Queried 14 agents all up. Two were judges of an RWA comp I finalled in and they both offered rep. While being great agents, they just weren't quite right for me. I actually queried my agent's partner, Miriam, a week after requesting she got back to me to say she liked it and could she share it with Jane. A further week later Jane offered rep.
    5. Tip: Do your research. Never give up. And make sure communication wise you and the agent are on the same page.

    Good luck, javamonkey!
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phaeal View Post
    Keep hitting desks until you hit the right one.
    I recommend against this. Desks are hard. Doesn't matter what they're made of, wood, steel, ceramic. You hurt your fist every damn time. Forehead is even worse.

    Trust me on this.

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  14. #14
    Pass the sugar Elizabeth Holloway's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by javamonkey View Post
    -----> QUESTIONS for those with agents:

    (1) Did you get your agent through regular query? At a conference? Some other way?
    I got my agent by cold querying a different agent at the agency who then passed my work on to my agent.

    (2) How did you learn of your agent?

    I didn't really know anything about her when she contacted me. Funny thing is, I didn't even know my work was seriously being considered. The first agent requests that the full manuscript be attached to the initial query email (I know. I thought it was odd, too), plus she's a no-response-means-no agent, so I figured I'd never hear from her. And I didn't. I heard from my agent instead.

    Once she contacted me, I dug around online and learned what I could. Then during the The Call, I asked lots of questions.


    (3) How long did you wait after agent requested the full?

    I never received a full request from my agent (see my answer above). I can tell you, however, that it was less than two weeks from when I sent my query to my offer of representation.

    (4) How many agents did you query? How long did it take?

    I queried 19 agents with this novel and it took a little less than two months. Now, that doesn't include the years I queried other novels. If you count all of that, then it's more like three years.

    I'm interested to hear your stories! Any advice or helpful tips you can share with the rest of us?

    Thanks for reading.
    My only advice is, to echo those who have commented before me, stick with it! Querying is hard, especially on the ego. Sometimes the best medicine for rejection is to revenge query (in other words, query the next person on your list when the rejections come in). And always be working on your next project.

    Good luck in Queryland!
    Last edited by Elizabeth Holloway; 01-24-2013 at 02:55 PM.
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  15. #15
    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    (1) Did you get your agent through regular query? At a conference? Some other way?
    A regular query. I had minor publication credentials, and I think those helped.

    (2) How did you learn of your agent?
    I'm not sure, actually. I found her in one of my endless hunts for UK literary agencies.

    (3) How long did you wait after agent requested the full?
    Queried Thu, Aug 16, 2012. Full request Sat, Sep 15, 2012 (but I was travelling and couldn't send the full until Sept 22nd). From Oct 4, 2012 onwards we discussed various things -- her credentials, her feedback and revision notes, whether we could meet in person-- and the contract was offered on Thu, Oct 25, 2012.

    (4) How many agents did you query? How long did it take?
    73 over two years. There's a more detailed breakdown at the bottom of this blog post.

    As for advice:
    1) Form rejections are a polite response, but they're not feedback. Don't take them as a reflection on your work.
    Personalised rejections sting much worse, but no response on a full is probably the most frustrating thing of all.

    2) Never be afraid to ask an agent about their credentials.

    3) As the others have said, never ever give up. A lot of querying comes down to persistence and luck.
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  16. #16
    Becoming a laptop-human hybrid Fuchsia Groan's Avatar
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    1. Regular query. Never tried a conference.

    2. Here at AW! I also used Agent Query quite a bit.

    3. Can't remember, but I think I waited a couple of weeks on the full.

    4. Queried about 75 on the book over four years. The whole time, I was revising both the book (including changing the genre!) and the query, such that the percentage of requests increased dramatically. The whole process was a struggle to learn about the market and find a place in it for the book I wanted to write. Writing a book for the market might be faster. I respect both paths but chose the first one, which requires a ton of patience and willingness to compromise.
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  17. #17
    Whatever I did, I didn't do it. Phaeal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
    I recommend against this. Desks are hard. Doesn't matter what they're made of, wood, steel, ceramic. You hurt your fist every damn time. Forehead is even worse.

    Trust me on this.

    caw
    Ah, that's what you're doing wrong, then. You're supposed to hit them with you MS, not your body parts.

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  18. #18
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Quote Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
    I recommend against this. Desks are hard. Doesn't matter what they're made of, wood, steel, ceramic. You hurt your fist every damn time. Forehead is even worse.

    Trust me on this.

    caw
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  19. #19
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I just want to thank everyone again for all your replies. I also have to say you people are heroic in your persistance!! Since most (all?) got your agents via regular query, it blows the myth that slush piles are never read.

    I think I got it. Never give up. Research. Ask questions... and refrain from hitting desks with body parts (esp. forehead.)

    Thanks everyone!
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  20. #20
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Agents don't really have slush piles. That's mostly for publishers.

    I'd chime in with responses, but I found my agent so long ago and so serendipitously (I wasn't looking) that I don't think it'd be relevant.

    - Victoria

  21. #21
    Moonshade lauralam's Avatar
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    (1) Did you get your agent through regular query? At a conference? Some other way?

    Regular query, except I had "BOOK GOING TO ACQUISITIONS IN 3 DAYS!" as part of the subject line, so that probably got her attention.

    (2) How did you learn of your agent?

    I was rejected by another agent (who approached me via Twitter!). I could tell I was a near miss. We emailed back and forth and I cheekily asked if he knew of anyone he'd recommend and one of the names was Juliet Mushens.

    (3) How long did you wait after agent requested the full?

    For the query, she responded within 5 minutes, and then offered the next day.

    (4) How many agents did you query? How long did it take?

    I did a small batch of 15-20 queries when I first went up to editorial for Angry Robot's Open Door in June/July 2011, but my query was pants and my book had lingering issues. After I received a revise and resubmit, the combination of better query, better book, and being able to say I had an editor interested meant out of another 20 queries I had 12 full requests. Second time it took 3 weeks and I had an offer of publication 2 days later. Those three weeks I think I was bonkers. So many ups and downs.


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  22. #22
    writer, rider, reader...ex-pat! BethS's Avatar
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    Well, first, congratulations on getting two requests for fulls out of five queries. That's really good.

    (1) Did you get your agent through regular query? At a conference? Some other way?

    I originally met him at a conference but never considered querying him at that time because I thought he didn't represent what I was writing. He eventually broadened his interests and also became the agent of a friend of mine, who gave me a recommendation.

    (2) How did you learn of your agent?

    See above.

    (3) How long did you wait after agent requested the full?

    I sent him the full (or at least, everything I'd written to date, which was a considerable amount) on a Friday and he called me the following Monday.

    (4) How many agents did you query? How long did it take?

    I had queried three others. My actual agent I did not query at all, but was referred to him by a friend.


    Obviously my experience is somewhat atypical, but I have a number of friends who have gotten agents in the more standard way (through the slushpile) and all of them are either fully published now or have been offered contracts. Bottom line, what it takes is a good query, good writing, and oodles of patience and persistence.
    Last edited by BethS; 02-12-2013 at 08:19 PM. Reason: TMI

  23. #23
    practical experience, FTW MrsBrommers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by javamonkey View Post
    (1) Did you get your agent through regular query? At a conference? Some other way?

    I queried her. No referral. After two months, I'd written her off as a no response because she typically replies with a few days if she's interested. But she very enthusiastically requested the full, and I kind of "just knew" how things were going to work out, given her excitement.

    (2) How did you learn of your agent?

    She was one of my "dream" agents in that I'd done my research on which agents would be right for my genre, who repped similar books, who had an outstanding reputation. I have a number of published friends, and her name kept coming up.

    (3) How long did you wait after agent requested the full?

    11 days. It was the fourth of July, and I was out of town when she sent the email telling me she was offering representation and wanted to speak on the phone.

    (4) How many agents did you query? How long did it take?

    The first book I queried about 9 months and was sent to about 60 agents, garnering over 30 requests, but no one put a ring on it. I could have done more with that one, but I pulled it after an R&R for a top agent completely ruined the MS. (I have since rewritten it, and my agent sold it.) The second book took 3 months of querying and went to 40 agents, and I had 21 requests. I knew my query and sample pages were good with both projects.

    I'm interested to hear your stories! Any advice or helpful tips you can share with the rest of us? Persistence and patience had better me in your writer's toolbox along with some very solid critique partners. You've got some agent's interested, so you've done something right. I do believe it's harder now to stand out in an agent's inbox than when I was querying 3 years ago because of the sheer ease of writers sending off queries, so if you're getting requests, just keep at it. It's really hard to predict how fast things will happen, and the path you take is very much unique to you.

    Thanks for reading.
    Good luck!
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    Magical realism (off with awesome agent)

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    http://www.twitter.com/Sarah_Bromley
    http://www.facebook.com/authorsarahbromley

  24. #24
    Positivilly Movillis . . . Krazykat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Coconino County
    Posts
    92
    I just wanted to say thank you to javamonkey for asking these questions, and thank you to everyone who's responded; they're good questions, and the replies are both enlightening and encouraging.

    It was also a pleasant surprise to see how many respondents said that the process just took them a few months--or even a few weeks! I'd always understood that even when you have a darn good book it's realistic to plan on it taking at least a couple of years, simply because the process is so inherently slow (i.e. a lot of agents may take months to respond, even when they're interested.) So it's nice to see that it's not uncommon for writers to make it through the process in far less time. (I imagine the use of email has helped to speed things up, too.)
    Are the voices in my head bothering you?

    "The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. If stories come to you, care for them." - Barry Holstun Lopez, from Crow and Weasel

  25. #25
    Trying to figure it out. Ravenheart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    78
    Quote Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
    I recommend against this. Desks are hard. Doesn't matter what they're made of, wood, steel, ceramic. You hurt your fist every damn time. Forehead is even worse.

    Trust me on this.

    caw

    You are too funny!
    Ravenheart

    WIP - Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
    Currently at 48,056 Words & Counting (Maybe more if I didn't update my signature today)

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