When we finish a manuscript, it’s so easy to want to jump right in and start querying for an agent. But take a pause and do the most important thing first:
You, you beautiful writer, just freaking created a whole new life, a whole new world. What’s on your screen, in your hands, printed in a beautiful stack on your desk is the representation of your imagination, uniqueness, and soul and all the tears, frustrating nights, distracted days, back pain, hand pain, and other countless pain (anyone else experience neck pain? Ha. Old).
And you know what? It was completely worth it.
Take a week off to celebrate, eat chocolate all day err’day, and go see what the sun looks like. Make sure it’s still there. 😉
And then, when you’ve had your fill, maybe earned yourself a good stomachache and a cavity or two, it’s time to write your query and send those babies out. Now the query process is a whole other battle that you’ll have to gird your loins for (lol). Writing the query letter is going to feel much harder than writing your X thousand word manuscript. Crazy, right? So use the multitude of resources available online. My go-tos are Query Shark and Writer’s Digest.
Once you’ve prioritized the agents you want to pitch to and sent out those letters, the waiting game begins. And when the offers and rejects start to come in, I want you to remember this lesson–a lesson I learned while attending the 2016 San Francisco’s Writers Conference:
Find your agent PIC (partner-in-crime).
No, there wasn’t a class dedicated to this 😉 but it was something I picked up on as I watched the agent/author interaction throughout the conference.
While it would be just amazeballs to be represented by your #1 ranked agent, it isn’t the end of the world if they don’t sign you. Or even if your top five don’t. Because while it feels like a denial means our work is equivalent to a turd, it isn’t. There are a few reasons why an agent might reject you:
- They already have a client they represent in that market.
- They weren’t interested in that genre in the first place (be sure to do your research).
- Your query and/or manuscript needs a little polishing.
- You submitted your query incorrectly (check out their submission guidelines and respectfully follow them).
- They just didn’t connect with the story.
I think the last one is the hardest to accept. How could they not? This is something you’ve spent years working on. They must be wrong. But that’s the thing. Not every book that you pick up connects with you just like not every agent will connect with your manuscript. And that is COMPLETELY OK.
And while you may receive some offers for representation, don’t jump on the first one right away. Kindly tell them you are reviewing all offers before you make your final decision (make sure to include a date when they’ll expect your decision). Because again, you want to:
Find your agent PIC.
You want an agent that is as excited and passionate about your story as you are. You want someone who can express with enthusiasm why the publisher should invest in you. And when you find that agent, the one that makes you feel all weak-kneed and in-love (because yes, you will have a very close relationship with your agent), magic will happen.
It was during one class in particular that I felt all weak-kneed and butterflies in my stomach, and it wasn’t even an author/agent relationship that included me. That’s how flipping magical a relationship with the right agent is. As the agent was telling us about an author she just signed, the agent couldn’t help but smile and gush about the manuscript. She wove the tale for us, made the story come alive, and this was just a summary of the plot. A SUMMARY! By the agent! She didn’t even write it! And just that simple summary, filled with infectious enthusiasm, made me want to buy the book.
You want someone that loves your story as much as you. And with the right person, they will fight for your success right alongside you. So never give up. You need just one agent to fall in-love with your story and be your champion in this industry. Never give up. Because its your dream 🙂
Happy writing, friends.