Diving headfirst into the literary waters of sending out Query letters contained a number of surprises. Leaving aside the fact that I jumped the gun on querying, these surprises add an additional humble factor. I’m assuming it’s to keep me from actually exploding with the pride of finishing one manuscript.
Like surprise #1 you don’t send a Query Letter and leave it at that. It’s more like a query letter and short synopsis. Or a query letter and first chapter. Or First 3 chapters. Or Synopsis, plus chapters, plus author bio, but synopsis and bio must be in the body of the email and chapters must be attached. Or Query plus full manuscript, all attached and not in the body of your email. Can’t you read the guidelines! We only accept queries sent on a warm Tuesday in February for this genre!
You would not believe how many different requirements each agency has.
Surprise # 2, you will not get any replies. As in, zero messages in your inbox from the person you queried. Not even a rejection. My mature, big-girl-panties-are-on side reminds me that agents are only human, they have slush piles that probably reach the terabyte level of inbox fullness, they say 4-12 week response time for a reason, and there just isn’t enough time to reply personally to every #pass.
My insecure author side is petty enough to think; couldn’t they spare even the nanosecond to push “send” on the form rejection email letter? Like, isn’t there a way to make your default signature something like “Sorry, this didn’t work for our agency. Too much (telling, blah writing, grammar mistakes, doesn’t grab me, isn’t unique, seriously did you even read the submission guidelines we don’t DO written in crayon, scanned and attached 200,000 word memoirs?)
OK, I feel better now.
In the midst of this fun, I actually got a reply. A reply! It’s like finding a gold nugget just sitting in the middle of the sidewalk! It’s that awesome. And it doesn’t take away from that golden feeling that it was a “Sorry, doesn’t work for me” reply. Because this agent took the time to read what I sent and sent me constructive criticism. Which I really, truly, very much need. As much as possible. I can’t use her name or actual reply because I haven’t gotten permission from her, but in general her reply was something like “I liked your idea, but the writing dragged with too much telling instead of showing. I think with a little polishing this could be a solid story. It just didn’t grab me until the third page (insert sentence she means, proof she actually did read it!) and the third page is too far along. Best wishes, agent.”
So, to add to the scoreboard.
Soul Mate Publishing: #pass
But in spite of that pass, I can wholeheartedly recommend Soul Mate Publishing to romance authors who are querying. They are good enough to hit that “reply” button, and that’s good enough for me. And can I just take a moment to be incredibly happy that she liked my idea? I like it too! It means I’m on the right track. The road might be rough on the ego and covered in incredibly individual submission guideline road-bumps, but I’m on the right one. Thank you, Soul Mate Publishing, for injecting some hope back into the process for me. You are priceless.
featured image via stocksnap.io & Alissa Anton