The Beginning of a Journey

So I’ve started the process of marketing my book to agents.  Yesterday, I got my first rejection for this particular novel.  Yay!  That’s one down, and one less between me and publication.

In the realm of writing, I think I can safely say that so far I hate query letters more than any other part of the process.  It’s intimidating to sit down and pound out a one to two page letter that will make or break your first impression to the folks you’re counting on to take an interest in your baby – that is, your book – which you have so carefully nurtured and raised and revised and cultivated.

Intimidation aside, every agency seems to want slightly different information in a query, although the basic recipe is as follows:  word count, genre, title, blurb describing the story and protagonist/antagonist and their relationship, any author qualifications or prior publications, and why you think this particular agent or agency is a good fit with you and your work.  Some agencies want a full synopsis summarizing the entire plot and hitting all major characters and story developments, and others want just the query letter itself and will ask you for your synopsis only if their interest is piqued by your letter.  Some agencies want sample pages or chapters (so far I’ve seen anywhere from 5 to 50 pages requested) and others want you to send that if you make it past the synopsis stage while still holding their interest.

My advice – which may not count for much, since this is my first journey toward publication of a novel and I’ve only taken on the first mile or so of the trip – is to go ahead and write your synopsis when you draft your first query, make sure your first fifty pages (especially the first five) rock, and query the living hell out of agencies and/or publishers with full confidence that you have everything you need at your disposal.