Last week the students in my Writing Close to the Earth online class read George Orwell's classic essay, "Politics and the English Language." In it ... Read More
One sweet day I’m going to have a lot of friends who are literary agents and I’m going to make them send me specifically formatted letters every time they want to speak to me or ask to borrow my bundt pan. Of course I will then reply to said letters with an across the board answer of “Sorry, I’m almost in love with this idea but can’t quite commit. I’m sure someone else will adore it.”
Can I just say that this weekend has been a perfect reinforcement of the title of this post?
As I said I would in the last post, I tweaked a few things in my query letter until I was happy with it. Then I spent the last week or so doing another complete edit of the manuscript and there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s much stronger for it.So today I sat down and started sending out some queries.You might venture to think this is easy. You’d be wrong.Every agent has their own foibles, each wanting things done just a little differently.The result is that each submission winds up being a long process of putting together a list of specific materials and arranging them just so in order not to be rejected outright by getting the format wrong.Some people want just the query, some want the query and the first ten pages, some want me to add a two-page synopsis to that, some a one page synopsis and a description of how I intend to promote the book, the list of possible combinations is endless.
One even required me to submit my favorite sentence from the manuscript. Say what? I kid you not. Out of a hundred thousand words, each and every one of which is near and dear to my heart, this person requires me to choose my very favorites. Talk about an agonizing decision. Ugh. I hope I get to meet that particular agent one day. I will throttle her (unless of course she sells my book).
By the time my mind was completely frazzled, I had sent out a whopping nine submissions. The first and third had already been rejected by the time the ninth was submitted. On the plus side, neither rejection was a form letter, though one did leave me with the distinct impression that she hadn’t read past the first sentence, so bizarre was her reply.
For me the worst part of being rejected is looking at an agent’s list of sales. While they certainly have one or two that are good (or I wouldn’t be considering them), they also seem to have sold a glut of worthless dreck, often things as revolting as vampire romance novels or some tired old fantasy retread. I know this sort of stuff sells (though I do wonder to whom) and agents rely on hack writers to pay the bills but it’s just really painful to know that somewhere out there is a book about an angst-ridden urban vampire and his emo girlfriend that got picked over mine. I imagine it’s the exact same feeling the musicians here at the Rabbit Room get every time they hear a Britney Spears song.
Oh joy, just got another rejection as I was writing that last paragraph. I intend to do at least a few submissions every day this week. We’ll see how it goes.
Pete Peterson is the author of the Revolutionary War adventure The Fiddler’s Gun and its sequel Fiddler’s Green. Among the many strange things he’s been in life are the following: U.S Marine air traffic controller, television editor, art teacher and boatwright at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, and progenitor of the mysterious Budge-Nuzzard. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jennifer, where he's the Executive Director of the Rabbit Room and Managing Editor of Rabbit Room Press.