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smallthunder
07-31-2005, 07:06 AM
I wrote this as a response to a posting in another forum congratulating me on landing William Clark Associates for representation -- I'm posting it here as well because I hope it will encourage people to keep on submitting despite rejections.


Let me tell you straight out -- William Clark was my "pie in the sky" query recipient. You know, like when you apply for college -- except that there are no "safety" or "shoe-ins" when applying for representation ...

I decided to send him my query letter based on the fact that he accepted e-mail queries -- I figured, what the heck? What do I have to lose? We're not even talking postage here. And then I pretty much forgot about him -- which was easy to do, since it took him 14 weeks just to reply to that query e-mail.

Now, back to that college application analogy: I remember thinking at the time that admissions officers at Ivy League colleges just threw the applications down a stairway -- those that landed on the top steps got in, those that landed further down were put on the waiting list, and those that fell further down ... well, rejected.

Just too many high school classmates who were not at all "Ivy-league material" as far as I could see who were getting in -- was it because they were jocks? because their parents graduated from that school? because they wrote about their beloved Great Dane in their essays and the head of the selection committee breeds Great Danes????

Same thing with landing an agent, I believe. You just don't know what individual agents are looking for -- what is important to them. Sure, "a well-written novel/a good read" -- but what does that mean to an individual agent?

So, for example: I got very excited at the beginning of my agent search (c. 5 months ago) when one agent passed on my novel but suggested that I contact her former assistant (who had moved on to open her own agency). A referral! I was so hopeful -- so, I sent the query to the new agent. Her reply was not so enthusiastic -- she noted that the novel was perhaps a bit too short -- but agreed to read a partial. I still have not heard from her.

Before hearing from William Clark, I received 11 or 12 requests for partials (out of c. 25 query letters sent). Yes, an extremely high positive response rate. Most of those agents have rejected my novel by now (some still pending) -- most without critique. But of the three who bothered to give me some feedback:

1. One agent said the manuscript needed to be "line edited" (a comment which confused and depressed the heck out of me. Note that I have worked as a writer/editor.)

2. One agent said the manuscript had a real sense of time/place (it's a historical novel), but that the characters needed more work -- more "layering," I think was how she put it.

3. One agent said it read too slow -- the plot needed to be speeded up.

So, there you have it: Three different agents rejecting the same partial, but apparently for completely different reasons. And then William Clark tells me that it was a great read -- that I'm a natural-born storyteller -- and can't think of anything that needs to be changed/modified!

Go figure.

Oh, and maybe this will encourage some people: I have never written fiction before this manuscript -- not even a short story.

La Reine
07-31-2005, 05:42 PM
So inspirational! I'll send in my query with a more open mind now having read of your experience. Who knows what will happen...

I'd love to read your book when it comes out.

J. Y. Moore
07-31-2005, 06:37 PM
#1 - CONGRATULATIONS! You must have felt the way I did when I first heard from PA saying they'd publish mine - I cried. Of course, I cried again when I found out what they were, but that's beside the point. Congratulations are definitely in order. They say each of us has a twin out there and the same can be said for each of us must have an agent/publisher match out there - at least that has to be our philosophy.

#2 - That brings me to #2 - Thank you for sharing! It does generate hope for those of us who haven't yet been so fortunate to find that perfect match.

J. Y. (Jean) Moore

smallthunder
08-01-2005, 03:14 AM
Well, Tonto, our work here is done ...
:guns:

(They ride off into the sunset)

jackie106
08-01-2005, 06:39 AM
Congratulations!:snoopy:


Jackie

Jamesaritchie
08-02-2005, 12:37 AM
Good inspiration in there. But one thing; it is not at all difficult to know exactly what individual agents want if you do your homework.

If you want to know what an individual agents wants, and how she wants it, then you have to find out which novels that agent has sold to mainstream publishers, and you then have to read a number of those novels. This not only gives you genre, but also tells you the style, characterization, etc., an agent or editor likes on a personal level.

It also lets you write a query letter that shows you've done your homework.

RainBrain
08-02-2005, 09:23 AM
Good inspiration in there. But one thing; it is not at all difficult to know exactly what individual agents want if you do your homework.

If you want to know what an individual agents wants, and how she wants it, then you have to find out which novels that agent has sold to mainstream publishers, and you then have to read a number of those novels. This not only gives you genre, but also tells you the style, characterization, etc., an agent or editor likes on a personal level.

It also lets you write a query letter that shows you've done your homework.


its hell on earth doing that for every agent you query if the number is over 40.

clotje
08-02-2005, 02:18 PM
Good inspiration in there. But one thing; it is not at all difficult to know exactly what individual agents want if you do your homework.

If you want to know what an individual agents wants, and how she wants it, then you have to find out which novels that agent has sold to mainstream publishers, and you then have to read a number of those novels. This not only gives you genre, but also tells you the style, characterization, etc., an agent or editor likes on a personal level.

It also lets you write a query letter that shows you've done your homework.

And how do you do that?

Euan H.
08-03-2005, 09:58 AM
its hell on earth doing that for every agent you query if the number is over 40.

But you're far more likely to get one who says yes. And that's the point, isn't it? IMHO, sending out ten well-crafted, personalized queries is better than sending out any number of bland form letters.


And how do you do that?

Go to the agent's website (if they have one) and search for recent sales they've made. Every agent website I've seen listed sales. Or you could look up the agent in Publisher's Marketplace--many agents list sales there. Or you could try googling the agent's name.

Jamesaritchie
08-03-2005, 09:05 PM
its hell on earth doing that for every agent you query if the number is over 40.

If you're querying that many agents, you're taking the long, slow road to finding a good one. Agents are best hunted with rifles, not shotguns. Querying four agents the right way is better, far more effective, and far faster, than querying forty the wrong way.

Jamesaritchie
08-03-2005, 09:09 PM
And how do you do that?

All sorts of ways. You check out agent's websites. You go through the marketing guides for agents. You call publishers. You network and ask around.

It usually goes faster if you find the books first, and then look for the agents. First find novels in your genre that you like, and can compare in style with your own. Then look for the agents who sold those books. Sometimes, this can be done with nothing more than a call to the publisher of the novel. Sometimes it takes more work, but it's always worth it.