I’ve crossed to the other side. No, not that one—the I’m-done-with-querying-I-hope one.
When I began blogging, I thought I’d write about the query process and the struggle to get an agent.
I thought I’d write about how many queries I sent out (21 in two weeks), how many rejected my novel (12), how many didn’t reply (6) how many requested full manuscripts (2), and how many called me the day after reading the manuscript (on a Saturday) to tell me she couldn’t put my book down and wanted to represent me (1).
Yes, that’s right: I have a literary agent. I’ve received an offer of representation, which means I am now past the querying stage. Like they say, there’s a lid for every pot. Woo hoo!
Of course, navigating the agent phase is tricky, too. Contracts, revisions, questions. Making sure we connect and have the similar visions. And I’m still on tenterhooks: Having an agent is by no means a guarantee that I’ll be published. But it’s a step closer.
There’s that pesky human nature creeping in. It seems that as soon as I achieve a goal, I’m ready to move on to the next. The last accomplishment fades and becomes no big deal. I still haven’t “arrived”; I’ve got to worry about the next one.
What’s up with that? Why do I keep myself in forward-land, never savoring my successes? Oh, sure, I’ll celebrate for a moment with a perfect (thanks, Don) mimosa. And lose my appetite for a day or so. But then it’s on again to the next unattainable goal.
It took me a year to write The Novel. Typing with RSD is slow. And for that entire year, I told only my husband that I was writing (had to justify hanging around the house all day). After I finished it, I had one person read it, and I incorporated her comments. My husband hasn’t even read the whole thing—just the first three chapters. I kept my baby close, protecting it from the bad old world. I struggled with telling my friends, much less the world. No querying for me.
But then I decided that I’m too old to be such a chickenshit. I’ve faced other fears and occasionally succeeded. If I truly intended to write for a living, I’d have to, well, show my stuff to people.
When I was eleven, and decided I’d be a Writer, like Harriet in Harriet the Spy, I secretly read some of my mother’s romances. (More about that later.) They all started with quotes about how wonderful the book was, how talented the author. So, in my naiveté, the first two pages of my novel were filled with quotes from made-up people, saying made-up things. Before I started with Chapter One. My parents thought it was hilarious.
Thinking back on that, I’ve decided to do something similar—write down my achievements. Jot down a few made-up reviews. Blog about it. Putting words on paper forces me to acknowledge—and enjoy—what I’ve worked so hard for.
They say that the odds of signing a literary agent are slim. One agent reported that her agency received 12,819 queries in one year and, from that, requested 478 partial manuscripts (a 3.7 percent success rate for the mathematically challenged). After reading the partials, the agency requested 87 full manuscripts, and offered representation to just 7 authors, 5 of whom accepted. (So 0.05 percent of queries were successful.) Another agent received more than 10,000 queries that same year, and offered a contract to no one. When I type that, my heart starts tap-dancing in my chest and my mouth goes dry. I’m overwhelmed and amazed.
Now back to revising…