Querying Agents- Holy Hell, this sucks!

Before I begin this post, I need to preface it with a little note about myself. I have a personal blog and now I have this one which I like to think of as my professional blog.  I was talking to my husband the other night and he, of course reads both of my blogs.  I'd like to say this is by choice, but I am pretty sure I would make his life a living hell if he didn't read them, but whatever.  So, he tells me that my "professional" blog is way too reserved and I need to loosen up and be a little more like I am in my personal blog.  Unfortunately I swear A LOT in my personal blog, I'm crass and far too sarcastic.  But I figure I'll give it a shot for this post and if it sucks, well I guess I suck then.

Back to the reason for this post...Querying agents.  Barf.  That's really all I would like to say on the topic, but I know there are people waiting for me to opine them with my vast knowledge on the subject. (Suddenly I'm marketing myself as literary genius because I can use Google.)  That's basically what I did when I began my agent query.  I Googled literary agents and read everything I could find.  I read multiple articles about how to write a query letter.  I found out everything there was to know about literary agents in my genre and then I researched the individual agents. If you haven't picked up on it yet, I love Google, I have a mild case of OCD and I might be a stalker.

It took forever to write my first query letter.  I wrote a 300+ page book and I couldn't for the life of me get my shit together to write 100 words about my book. The trouble?  This is what sells your book and makes agents request to see more of it.  It has to be perfect.  Perfect?  Maybe perfect is the wrong word.  It needs to be flawless and everyone you send it to needs to love it.  It needs to be like Kate Middleton in her wedding dress...flawless.  (Come on, who didn't love that dress?)

Finally after several days of hemming and hawing (does anyone even use that phrase anymore?) over each stupid word, I finished my first query letter. Truth be told—it sucked.  But I still decided to send it out to agents.  During one of my more stalker-ish moments, I created an Excel spreadsheet that indexed all the agents I researched along with their respective genres and which publishing companies they worked with.  (Still don't think I have OCD or stalker tendencies?  Just wait.)  I chose five agents off the list, put check marks in the boxes I labeled "queried" and emailed them off.

Here comes my OCD.  I began to obsess over every mundane detail.  The problem is that all agents require different submission requirements.  Some want to see the first chapter, others don't.  Some only want a blurb and a description of the author and some really don't want anything but a title and short description.  The worst part is they all want it in a different format.  Double-spaced, some say yes, others say no.  Send as an attachment? Sure, but not to that agent, so be careful.  This one wants an email submission and that one wants only snail mail.  Paste the query directly into the email, use only Veranda font, nothing bigger than 10 point, make sure to spray the snail mail query with Chanel No. 5, send your first born child (he's rather whiny so I'll attribute that to why I didn't hear back from that agent)and pray for the best. Holy hell!  I thought my Excel spreadsheet kicked ass, until I began the process.  I was certain I sent a query to an agent and put the wrong name when addressing it.  Then I think I sent a double-spaced submission when it should have been single.  I was completely positive that I forgot the Chanel No. 5.

So, when I received a few rejection letters, I began to re-tool my query letter.  I mulled over every detail and shared my thoughts with my ever supportive husband.  (Duck Dynasty was on, so I was lucky that I got a head nod in acknowledgment.)  My advise would be not to query more than six agents a time. Why such an arbitrary number?  Well, if your first query letter sucks, like mine did, it will suck even more when you receive fifty rejection letters as apposed to six.  Also, once you get a rejection from an agent you can not resubmit another query to them for the same book.  No means no! Basically fifty query letters equates to shooting yourself in the foot.

I over hauled my letter and chose five new agents and sent them off...again.  This time I sent my second born. (He is much more appealing.)  I actually got one response asking for the first three chapters and another letter telling me that I had great character development, but they weren't interested.  Nothing ever came from the agent I sent the three chapters to, but I did feel a little better about the whole process.  I felt like my second letter wasn't so sucky, but in the end they were still rejections.

In short, query only a few agents at time or you might end up black balled from every agency for having a shitty letter and sending it to everyone from here to who the hell knows.  Also, keep the letter short, stick to the ridiculous guidelines and only send your non-pain in the ass child.  Here is my query letter that finally elicited some type of response other than a form letter that said, "thanks, but no thanks". (In all honesty I think I would rather receive a form letter that says, "Hey Lady, your letter sucks and by association so does your book".  Sarcasm and insults will get you everywhere with me.

Dear agent, (obviously, use the agent's name and spell it correctly. If the agent's name is Karyn spelled with a "y" instead of an "e" don't over look this detail, it will make you look like a dipshit.)

My name is Nikki Young and I have just finished my first manuscript A LIFE MORE COMPLETE. (Don't italicize or quote a title in an email query.  It needs to be in caps.  Why?  Not a freakin' clue.  Just part of the bull shit that is there to throw you off. It needs to italicized in a snail mail query, though.) It is final at 85,000 words and is women's fiction combined with humor.

Can you ever really outrun your past?

Krissy Mullins, an overworked, obsessive-compulsive publicist has been giving it her best shot for the past ten years. Throwing herself into her work and devoting all her time to her teenage starlet client, Krissy finds little time for anything else. But as fate would have it, her world is turned upside down when she falls in love with laid-back California native, Ben Torres. Unfortunately, her only frame of reference on love and marriage is her parents and they weren’t exactly the poster children for a happy relationship.

As Krissy attempts to navigate the precarious world of love, acceptance, and compromise, her past comes flooding back like she never expected. An ex-boyfriend returns from a life she has tried to forget, stirring up feelings in Krissy she had thought were long gone. Pulled in opposite directions as her past and present collide, she makes a rash decision that will forever change her life.

Thank you very much for your time and attention.

Don't forget to sign the letter!  Include your email address, mailing address and phone number.  You can never be too detailed.  Or maybe you can?

Filed under: Writing

Tags: agents, query letters, writing

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