Finding the Perfect Match

Sunday, April 19, 2020
I am in the midst of querying like crazy. My eyes are strained, due to hours and hours of staring at my computer screen, hoping to find the perfect agent or publisher. Since the beginning of March, I've sent out over 80 queries, and--lucky me--I've even already gotten some rejections that came the next day that were sent to me in a timely manner.

image by Pixabay

In my desperation for a sign that I've stumbled upon the perfect match, I grasp onto details like this:

Oh, this agent plays Ultimate Frisbee. My son used to play Ultimate. People who play Ultimate are passionate, energetic, and not afraid to get "messy." This is the agent for me!

This agent loves the actor Natasha Lyonne. I ate up Lyonne in the show Russian Doll, as well as in the series Orange is the New Black. This agent has great taste. She is the perfect person to rep my manuscript.

Oh wow! This agent is crazy about whales. As a grown up, I once sat through the Shamu show--three times in one day--hoping they would choose me to come to the edge of the tank and touch Shamu. Each time, they ignored me and picked a kid. I’m crazy about whales too. It’s kismet. This agent is destined to represent me.

Of course, these connections are all in my mind. It reminds me of the day I saw a car with an Oklahoma license plate, and knew that I would get home and find an email “yes” from a publisher or an agent (my manuscript centers on a Tulsa event). I didn't. Writers are like that. We hang from the most tenuous of threads, hoping…

Writers also are fond of laughing instead of sniffling sobbing uncontrollably. Ken Pisani actually wrote a piece about writer rejection that made me chuckle. One of the things he pointed out was that apparently, he terrified agents, because frequently he would get an email beginning with, “Dear Ken--I’m afraid that…” He has a similar humous observation about his timing.

As I was drafting this post, I read that one writer had the privilege of sitting in on an agent reading queries. The agent went through 19 queries in 14 minutes. They chose one to set aside in the "maybe" pile. When agents are reading that quickly, potential and talent can be overlooked. All a writer can do is hope that a later agent doesn't miss the possiblities.

And if you're wondering how bumpy the road to snag a literary agent is, read this article.  In it, Stephanie Elliot recalls telling her mother that when she had sent out 100 queries without getting representation, she was going to give up. Later, she told her mom that her 140th query was the lucky one. Of course her mother said, “But I thought you were going to quit at 100!” Elliot explained that if she had thrown in the towel after 100 queries, she wouldn’t have an agent. In this piece, 11 writers share their stories.

Me? My magic number is 155 queries. (31 days in March, which is now April and will soon be May x 5 queries every day = 155.) Will I be like Stephanie Elliot? Will I hit 155 and if I still haven’t got a yes, will I continue submitting?

We’ll see...

Sioux Roslawski is a distance teacher, a freelance writer, a hopeful author and a determined dog rescuer. These days, she's slogging through lists of agents, hoping to find one who will say "yes" to her manuscript. If you'd like to read more from Sioux, head to her blog.


Cathy C. Hall said...

They do say it's a numbers game, Sioux.

Though why it's called a game, I don't know. I thought games were supposed to be fun?? :-)

Margo Dill said...

That piece by the TV writer is hysterical. But here's what it seems like you need to do: find someone you went to high school with who is a literary agent, and you are golden! That's the key. Gosh, now that we have it figured out, I think you'll be fine. ;)

Renee Roberson said...

Good job with submitting all those queries, Sioux! It seems like I've scared many an agent off with my writing, too, but I also understand they have such a high volume of queries they are fielding. I hope to work back up the courage to begin querying again myself in the next few months. Thanks for sharing those articles with us.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Eighty?! 80!? I feel like a professional slacker. But, like Cathy says, it does seem to be a numbers game. Guess I best get hopping!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Cathy--So true. This is not fun at all!

Margo--Yeah, that's the ticket. So easy. I'm paging through my old high school yearbook right now...

Renee--Thanks. Who knew we writers were people who could be so terrifying? ;)

Sue--You're an expert at submitting, with hundreds of publication notches on your belt. You don't need to amp things up. You're a marathon writer... Right now, I'm a sprinter.

Angela Mackintosh said...

This is awesome, Sioux! How many have you sent out now?

The agents who are getting through queries that fast know exactly what they want to represent and what type of work they can sell. I think it's a good thing, less waiting!

I did hear some intel yesterday on the publishing market from an agent, which was kind of unsettling. I heard publishers are mostly seeking rom coms and humor books right now, with only a handful of dark literary novels. I know yours is MG historical fiction, so it doesn't apply to you. But this piece of info had me scratching my head... because any book that gets picked up by an agent right now is at least 2+ years (minimum) from being published. So that had me thinking...are we only going to have rom coms to read in 2022? Ugh!

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