Last week, we talked about things you should know when querying agents. Let’s face it. Querying can suck the life out of you. The “Will someone love my work enough to represent it?” question is always at the back of your mind. You jump every time the phone rings, hoping it’s THE CALL. You stalk… I mean READ… agents’ tweets. And you refresh your e-mail box every minute for months. Whoa. That’s tiring me out just writing about it.
What you need to help you through the rollercoaster ride we call “querying agents” is support. Join a writing group or find other writers who are querying too. As you’re querying, you might come across a group of other authors querying at the same time. This might happen through contests like Pitch Wars, through sites like Query Tracker, or through social media like Facebook or Twitter. Chatting with people who are going through similar experiences as you can help you feel less alone. If you see Jane Doe’s rejection letter from Agent A is the same as the one you received, you’ll know it’s a form rejection, which might not sting as much.
Groups like this can also help you find agents to query or can tell you about their experience with a particular agent. However, as good as these groups can be, you have to remember you’re not in competition with these folks. Everyone has his or her own journey to publication. So, if Jane gets an agent before you, it doesn’t mean you won’t or that she’s better than you. Maybe your journey is to hook an editor through a contest, or you might self-publish, or maybe it’ll just take a little longer for you to find the right agent. Be happy for Jane, not jealous. Okay, realistically, you can be envious for A MINUTE, but you need to put those feelings aside or they’ll eat you up.
-When an agent rejects your work, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with it. This business is very subjective. What one agent rejects, another might love. However, if several agents tell you they don’t like your protagonist, for example, you might want to consider taking a look at how you can make him more likeable.
-Sometimes, it’s really all about the market. If a market is slow and agents are struggling to sell in that particular genre, they’ll be reluctant to take on another project in that genre. They might love your story, but they’re in the business to make money. If they’re afraid they won’t be able to sell your project, they’ll pass.
-Some agents will give you a R&R (revise and resubmit) without signing you and without any guarantee they ever will. This is tricky. You have to really believe in the agent’s suggestions if you’re going to revise your work, because you could end up wasting your time revising only to have them pass on the new version. This is time you could’ve spent working on a new story. However, some agents use R&Rs as a test. They want to see how well you take their criticism and if you can implement the changes they suggested in the way they want. If you do, they’ll sign you, and your manuscript will be ready to go out on submission.
Whatever you do, don’t take rejections personally. This is a business. Agents aren’t rejecting YOU. They’re saying this particular project isn’t right for them.
Come back next week to read the last part in this series.
Editing Update: My next available slot is February 13. Book now.