Thursday, September 1, 2016
Nearing the tipping point
In July, I posted an update to Old School Evil's progress. Since then I've made a few strides in preparing for the agent search and prepared my submission package. Today was supposed to be the day I sent my query letters off, but the extra requirements most agents request has taken me more time to complete than I expected. I wanted to talk a bit about those extras here, while I avoid actually working on them.
The first thing an agent will request is a query letter. Sometimes it's the only thing The query is a three paragraph (or so) introduction to your book and you as a writer to an agent. It's got the basics of your storyline and your bio. And the most important part of it, or so I've heard, is the hook. That first sentence has to really grab the agent's attention or you're dead in the water. I've had a query letter draft written for a few months and had it looked at by an agent on Reddit who helps us aspiring authors get them in the best shape. After a little reworking with some help from my critique partner, I think I've got one polished.
Next, an agent will usually ask for a 1-2 page synopsis. Here's where my biggest delay has come in. Synopses are hard as hell to write. To condense a book from seventy-four thousand words so it can fit on two pages is a Herculean task! And if it weren't hard enough to pair it down that much, you've still got to make sure you focus on your conflict, and your character arcs, and so many other facets of your story. I have a first draft done that's mainly just an outline of the book, but next on my plate is to rework it to include the things I mentioned.
Lastly, and this one varies a lot, an agent will request a sample of the writing. Sometimes, it's the first 5 pages, sometimes it's the first three chapters. Just depends on who you're submitting to. Here's the important part - the majority of agents today are requesting all of this stuff to be pasted into an e-mail. No attachments, just one long e-mail with everything slapped in it. Once you've got that pasted in, get it all formatted to look correct (this apparently is too hard for some people to follow) and hit send. And that's going to be an incredibly hard button to click with so much anxiety resting on that one button.
One thing to remember is to personalize the message to the agent. If you've read something they represented, let them know. If your book is similar to something they've represented, let them know that too. If you've never read anything they've represented, don't feel the need to tell them that.
Overall, this process is the hardest I've hit since starting Old School Evil. Writing it was a snap, editing it was a little difficult at times, but getting it ready to send out into the world, to be pummeled with rejections, is frustrating, nail-biting, pants-shitting hard. I've considered more times than I'd care to admit just self-publishing it so I can avoid it altogether. But I shall persevere and will submit it when the synopsis is ready.
There's one other reason I'm delaying everything, though. A writing group is holding a query letter contest next month. I've had to rewrite my query to fit their requirements and also write a blurb, which I never even considered doing. Next weekend they're also holding a seminar on the querying process that I'd like to attend. I don't have to wait until the contest starts to submit to my agents, but it's taken time away from the synopsis since it only recently was moved to October from this coming meeting. As soon as I'm able to process the info from this coming meeting (hopefully the synopsis will be done by then), I'll be sending out my query letters.
Then the rejections begin.