Several postings ago I wrote about the importance of persistence. I keep pulling that up for my own encouragement as I continue my pursuit of that elusive treasure – a YES from an agent, which would give me at least a shot at a major publisher for book #2. By the way, the book #2 I’ve written about in the past has a new name and a proposed new look! Sentimental Journey stepped aside for the more fitting (and perhaps less hokey) title, In Her Mother’s Shoes.
Since July I have been sending out queries to agents who handle women’s fiction. A daunting 174 appear in QueryTracker in response to a search for agents who are open to submissions AND have a website (so I can learn more about them and their books) AND accept email queries. Perhaps, if I do not succeed with emails, I may open the list up to those who only accept snail mail queries. But by then my persistence may just have run its course. We’ll see. Actually, the 174 agents include multiple agents from the same agencies, so the selection actually is much smaller than that – approximately half, by my visual assessment.
My hopes were raised back in September when I received not one, but two requests for the full manuscript. Alas, both subsequently rejected it, with one specifically saying it was too slow. So I sent the manuscript off to my former instructor, Mark Spencer, who did a slash and burn. It would have upset me if I hadn’t been prepared – he did the same for me with Autumn Colors, and the result was a better flow. So I made the edits he recommended, taking the manuscript from 96,000 words down to 88,000.
Then, after many more rejections based solely on the query, I sought assistance from Andrea Hurst, and we improved upon that. Through it all, I’d been bothered by the title. Although the main character did indeed go on a sentimental journey, that title fell short of capturing the book’s theme. Then one night as I drifted off to sleep, the new title came to me. Fearing I wouldn’t remember it in the morning, I dragged myself out of bed and wrote it down. Unfortunately, that had the effect of revving up my brain, as I played with potential cover art.
So here I am, over 4 months into my query process, and I’ve yet to achieve my goal. I did receive (just this morning!) a request for a partial manuscript. And I’ve received a number of rejections. But mostly the queried agents have been silent – and as many of you know, in this business no news is not good news. Since September, when I started using QueryTracker, I’ve queried a total of 65 agents and received 11 rejections and one partial manuscript request. I have maybe 40 or so to go, eliminating the agency duplicates and those who are only accepting submissions by referral, as well as those who rejected me earlier. I’ll keep at it, following my own advice to be persistent.
But it will come as no surprise to you that my holiday wish is to celebrate the incoming new year with the coveted gift of an agent contract. And since I’m feeling generous, I’ll wish the same for any of you who are traveling the same road.