My quest for an agent continues. This morning, I got my first request for additional material, which is awesome. Will it lead to anything? That remains to be seen, but any aspiring author should allow themselves some excitement and celebration in response to the little victories – an agent taking an interest based on my query letter and synopsis means, at least, that my query letter must be decent and my synopsis doesn’t need a rehaul. I’m not making a bad or boring first impression.
For a debut novel, a request for additional material is a good sign that I’m doing my research right and presenting my work well. Even if the agent turns me down after reading my first chapter, at least I’ve gotten a little nod that I’m marketing correctly, and the challenge, then, is to find an agent who wants what I’ve got to offer.
It’s important to remember, when marketing, that it’s a very different thing to be a good writer than to be a good seller of your writing, and not to get down about your writing just because you get rejected a few dozen times – particularly with novels. Short stories are somewhat different, because the story is your selling point and the editors (or at least their assistants) are reading your work, not your query, as the basis for judgement. A few dozen rejections of a short story means it may be time to look it over and polish it up some more.
With a novel, though, you’re counting on your query and possibly your synopsis to hook your audience (at this stage, an agent). I think the most important component of writing a query, for me, has been confidence in the work. It would be incredibly hard for me to have written a query letter if I wasn’t happy with – wasn’t excited about – the book I’m presenting. But I do, honestly, deep down in the cockles of my heart, love my book. I had a great time writing it, and I honestly believe it’s something that many other people will have a great time reading. I see a lot of potential for it.
And this hasn’t been the case with novels I’ve written before (yes, I have some serious Fails), which is why I never tried to get them published. My point here is, write a book you love, rewrite it until you’re happy with it and really really believe in it, and querying will just be a matter of conveying your own excitement to someone else, the way you would recommend any good book. It will also take the sting out of the majority of your rejections, because you will know that this poor agent just passed up his/her big chance at your awesome novel.
Yes. Once you have been brutally honest with yourself during the rewriting process (and gotten other people to be brutally honest about it, too), then you get to be egotistical and love the holy living crap out of your book. You’ll have to, if you’re going to stay motivated in the face of rejection.