So here’s the thing about querying; it takes a lot of time. Once you have your polished manuscript, your query letter, your short synopsis, your long synopsis, comp titles and a short pitch, it’s time to research agents! You can do this by going through the websites of literary agencies and reading through the agent bios and wishlists. There’s also a website called manuscriptwishlist.com where you can filter agents by the genre or age group they’re looking for.
Now you have to read what the agents are looking for and chose the one that’s looking for something close to what you’ve written, or at least the same genre and age category. Don’t send your manuscript to somebody who’s not at all interested in anything even vaguely like your book (no matter how much you like them) because you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment because they will reject you. Maybe even without reading your query.
And then once you’ve found an agent, look up the specific way they want to be queried. Some use Query Tracker or a form built into the website or email. Some require 5 pages, 20 pages, first chapter, it varies. Some require the synopsis and a short pitch and comp titles (books that your book is similar to). Personalize your query letter, at least use the agent’s name and include all the information they asked for. Sometimes agents ask for your favourite movie or your favourite song or something like that and then you’ll grind to a halt because you don’t what to say and wonder if there’s a wrong answer. All I can say is just be honest.
Once you send off your query I’d advise keeping track by creating an Excel document with the agent’s name, the name of the agency and the date you queried them. That way you know how much time has passed and when it’s appropriate to nudge them if nudging is required. You’ll also know when you can stop expecting a response (some aren’t able to respond to every query and let you know how long to wait before it’s an implied no). Some agencies allow you to query multiple agents at the agency and some say a rejection from one is a rejection from all. Just check, the information is there on the websites.
Now, this whole process is very involved and can feel extremely overwhelming because, with each query you send, a seed of hope is planted in your heart.
And so, I recommend working on something else while you’re searching for representation, even if it’s just to focus your mind on something else. And to remind yourself that you love writing. If your querying process is successful and you find an agent then you’ll already have the beginnings of something to work on next. And if you’re not successful you’ll already have something to query next. So there’s no losing in my opinion.
Writing through rejection is hard I’m not gonna lie. When you open your email and see the rejections, it’s hard to work on your new thing and convince yourself that you can actually write and this is a good story and it’s worth pursuing. But I’d advise giving yourself a moment to be sad and then move forward. Find someone or a group of someones that you can talk to. I had my mother, who was very encouraging and comforting. She’s the only person who has read everything I’ve written and all this would be so much harder if I didn’t have her. Moms give the best hugs you know?
I wish I had more tangible advice to give but the best advice is to find what works for you in particular. What makes you feel good? What makes it easier for you to carry on? What inspires you? Find your specifics and use them as much as you can. Try different things and see what works. Release the things that don’t work for you (even if they work for others) and hold on to things that do. If something stops working, try something else and keep trying things till you find something that does. And buckle in for the long haul because this publishing thing is slow.
It takes long to write a book. It takes long to edit a book. It takes long to find an agent. It takes long to edit the book again with the agent. It takes long to sell a book. It takes long for the book to be released. Everything takes long *cries dramatically*
So make peace with that now and once you do I promise it’s so much better. Develop your patience and trust that it’s working. You’re on the road, the journey will take as long as it takes.