I heard back from my editor this week. She's still plugging away reviewing the final draft of my book, The Cube. She gave me some really positive feedback in her email, saying I've made a lot of progress and the main relationship in the book is flowing naturally (yay!) but also planted a slight seed of doubt in my mind when she told me I could go back and look at the dialogue again. She sent me a link to this article on dialogue. Two things came to mind as I read her email...
So yes, while I wait for the full feedback, one of the things I'm doing is researching agents. When I finally do have my edits in, I want to be ready to hit the ground running to look for representation.
I began with my favorite books, looking in the acknowledgement sections to see if they list their agent names. You know what surprised me? A lot of my favorite books don't have acknowledgement sections. I mean, I was seriously shocked. But for the ones that did, I took notes on who the agents were and started there.
I also created a rubric to grade whether or not they'd be a good fit to reach out to. Here are some questions I asked myself:
With these questions in mind, I then turned to the Literary Agents section of the Writers Market 2017 that I purchased and just started plugging away looking up agencies one-by-one. And here's the thing...
There's so much hope. That feeling you get when you click on a website and it's beautiful and has the warmth and professionalism you're looking for. When you read a bio that seems to align to you perfectly and you like the other books the agent supports. When you Google them and find an interview and like their sense of humor or the advice they give to writers. When you think, of course I could work with this person! And then there's the feeling of when you get into a groove and start eliminating other agents because you've figured out what you're looking for. It makes you feel like you're on your way.
But, there's also so much agony. Because it dawns on you that there are hundreds, thousands of people thinking the exact same thing as you. That there are a limited number of agents and they get approached all the time, every day, all day long. That you are only as good as your query letter and so you re-read your query letter for the millionth time, oscillating back and forth between thinking it's the greatest thing since sliced bread and that it's so mediocre even you wouldn't email you back. There's the agony of feeling like the entire thing is a total crapshoot. It's like dating only worse. You start hearing in your head "if they would just get to know me, they'd love me!"
So, what do you do?
Well, if you're me, you acknowledge all those feelings. Give them time to sink in, know that it won't always feel good, and then keep going. Because you'll never know until you try. You make a spreadsheet to keep track of your agent research. You judge them as much as they will judge you. You make notes as to why their profiles spoke to you so that when you query them, you can tell them exactly why you are querying them. And you tinker with your query letter with every new piece of advice you get, because every little change could make a difference.
If you're me, you choose hope. You choose hope each and every time. Because hope is such a better choice. You can keep hope in check by trying to be realistic, by knowing the odds, by telling yourself it's a lot of hard work and takes persistence and that you might have to query 100 agents before one bites. But you choose hope.
You choose hope every time.
Because you know what? The Cube is a kick-ass book and I really can't wait for you all to read it.