Well, May 1st marked a big day for my writing career. I sent out my first agent query! Wish me luck. I targeted the agent who currently represents Jim Butcher. I figure she already know about selling fantasy/mystery hybrid novels, and that is a Good Thing. She also has a blog, and, unless she's a different person online, she seems to have my kind of personality. So, I aimed for the top. If it doesn't work out, then I'll send out queries in batches. They say not to give up on a book until you've queried a hundred agents.
The way the agent getting process works is thus (it is similar to getting a job or into college):
- First you find an agent who represents your genre.
- Then write (or modify an existing) query cover letter. This tells them why you picked them, what the story is about, who you are, etc.
- Send the letter along with the first five pages of the novel, so they can see how you write prose (since writing a business letter ain't the same thing).
- Put all the info (agent name, date sent, etc.) in a spreadsheet.
- Bite fingernails and wait.
- If they don't like it, you get a form rejection. If they like it, they ask for a "partial": the first three chapters (so they can really see how you write) and a synopsis (to make sure you have enough plot for a novel and to make sure you can wrap it all up at the end).
- Send it and bite more fingernails while you wait. Friends should send cookies around now, or alternatively, beer.
- If they don't like it, they send a more personal rejection. If they do like it, they ask for the manuscript. Now they get to check out the whole enchilada. Mmmm, enchilada.
- You send it (the manuscript) and bite your fiancée's fingernails, since you are fresh out.
- Finally you either get a personalized rejection, or else an offer to represent!
- Time to either celebrate or move on to the next one.
And just to give you some stats...this agent says she averages 100 query letters a week. Of those, she asks for partials on 1 or 2 of them (unless none interest her enough to bother). Each step (query > partial > full > offer) can take a week to months. That is why you typically query many agents at once. So why am I querying just one to start? Well, you only get one chance to make someone you "first choice". I did the research, and this agent has qualifications that put her ahead of the pack, so the only thing I can lose is time. On the other hand, I let her know that I singled her out and why I singled her out, and maybe that will help. Well find out.
I do have several other agents targeted for round two. Always got to be prepared.
And now, time to get back to work on my synopsis. You never know. She may fall in love with Zook and call tonight asking for more.
Oh yeah, and I found a miniature game that looks even better than Warhammer . . . WARMACHINE. Warmachine takes place in a fantasy world where magic and might are augmented by steam-powered machines, usually in the form of massive battlebot looking things. Hmmm, a fantasy world with a rising level of technology. Very interesting. And look, they are a young company that hasn't yet published any Warmachine novels . . .