Updated March, 2003
Last year I thought my novel was ready. Though it totaled 530 pages (down from the original 760), I thought it was finished. I emailed four queries to agents who said they accepted email queries. I received three responses. Two were polite notes saying "No," and the third asked to see the manuscript. I was delighted. I printed out all 530 pages, bundled it up, and mailed it off to the agent. When the dust had cleared, I heard nothing from her.
Rule 1: ALWAYS send along a SASE with any paper submission!!
When I tried to follow up with email I found the website for her agency was defunct, so my joy turned to sour notes. I checked into the agency and found it was just a little fly-by-night. Later in the year I attended a couple of writer's conferences and focused on the agent seminars. I learned several important things about agents, and have now raised the bar in my judgment of who might be a good agent.
Rule 2: Pick an agent who is listed with AAR!
When I had reduced my book to a more reasonable size of 360 pages, I decided it was again time to send out queries. Writing what I considered to be a good and proper query letter, I had high hopes for being considered by one or the other of the two agents I had met at the writer's conferences. Once again, I received a polite responses of "No." My ego suffered, and I again considered self-publishing.
Rule 3: Be persistent, don't give up, pick out a good agent candidate, and keep sending queries.
However, sanity prevailed and once again I
am ready to send out queries. I registered for the on-line services
at Writer's Market and
plan to scan through the lists of agents that have recently indicated
they are interested in receiving a query. Since
we will be traveling in the next few months and will be weeks
behind our snailmail, I have decided to do as much as I can over
the Internet. One of the issues is how to send sample chapters.
Several times I have heard that agents will under no circumstances
open attachments, so I am going putting sample
chapters on this website and link them from the email. We
will see how it goes.
UPDATE as of 3/28/03: My persistance paid off. I had sent six new queries and received rejections from three. It was past time for another, the Literary Group, to respond. So I sent another email explaining that since I was about to embark on a long trip, I needed to know if they were interested or not. I received a response explaining they had to record of receiving my query and asking that I resend it, which I did. The very next day I received another email asking that I send a synopsis and the first 50 pages of the novel. It appears they were not equipped to take the same material I had provided on-line.
They also asked for a 30-day exclusivity option. I put the package together, granted them the option, and sent it to them by priority email. I should know what they think by the end of April.
UPDATE as of 6/21/03: Mid-May I finally got the rejection from The Literary Group (as well as all the others that I expected would come in later). That was when I decided to try Self-Publishing. Now I expect books by the first of July.