I received another polite frownie-button rejection email today. That brings me to five rejections from twenty-two submissions. That’s okay, though. I never expected my journey to be easy, and I expected rejections. That’s the way it is.
However, rejection doesn’t have to lead to dejection. I may feel otherwise if I reach one-hundred submissions without having an agent fly to DC, contract in hand, to meet with and sign me, but at the moment, while a little bummed, I’m not throwing my head back, hand on forehead, and crying “Oh! Woe is me!”
Instead, I’m going to review my query letter. I’m going to read my hook aloud, silently, whispered, backwards (haha not really 🙂 and see if I should tinker with it.
Tinker with it. Hmmm… that brings me to the point of this post. My “duh” moment. All right, my latest duh moment. Yesterday evening, while perusing the blog of literary agent Jane Friedman (I love Jane. I hope her husband doesn’t find out….), I noticed a popup news box that mentioned new agents who are building their client lists. The point of the popup was that submitting to new agents was a great opportunity. Not that they would be more likely to contact an author for more information, but that they might read two lines into your query rather than one line before deciding your query letter wasn’t going to make them scream for joy.
I thought I’d give it a try, so I looked through the list of names (unusual for me, since I almost always start at the top of a list and work down) and clicked on one. There was a brief bio and a link to the agency’s webpage. I followed the link and – you know what? Let’s make a long story short. As I prepared my email submission, the 100 watt bulb went off over my head. I have to say, that’s dangerous; my hair is thinning so my scalp burns easily. But, that bulb was hot! Here comes my duh moment: Stand By. Brace yourselves: “I should do a search for this agent and see if I can learn anything that might help me with my submission.” Right? I know. Brilliant!
Hey. I can be slow at times. I know most of you do this as a matter of routine: Step 1. (yawn) Spell Check. Step 2. (dash cold water in face) To-be verb check. Step 3. (here kitty kitty) Agent’s name correct? Step 4. (coffee…coffee) Research agent. I also know the world is full of writers like me, starting out, testing the water with toe-tips, learning the ropes. “It don’t come easy, you know it don’t come easy.” Thanks, Ringo.
In my research, I found a Q&A with this agent on a writer’s blog. In the Q&A, the agent was asked how she performed “The Ritual,” (my term – feel free to use it 🙂 What she said blew my mind: “My email inbox shows the name of the sender, subject, and first line of my messages, so I see those three pieces of information first. These elements can either immediately pique my curiosity (an interesting title, something in the first sentence that speaks to me, an instantly intriguing log line), or lead me to skip over, or sometimes even delete, a message….” Yessssss! I know the secret.(My title is Honey Ko – that’s intriguing. Isn’t it?)
Again, this may be old news to some of you, but for the rest of the Wills out there, live and learn. Don’t get complacent and keep sending the same old submission. Do some research and find out what makes that agent want to take another look, dig deeper, ask for more info, fly to YOUR town and sign you up.
Did I make the long story short? I hope so. My writer’s fault is wordiness. I don’t speak much; I’m usually the quiet one. I guess I let it all out on paper.
Tonight, I’m reworking my agent pitch and previewing it by sending it to myself as an email. I’ve set my email preview to one line. I want to see how powerful that first line is. It’s a bunch of baloney that the first line has to contain my name and the subject – that’s taking up valuable pitch space. But hey, nobody said life is fair, or agents 🙂
‘Til next time my lovelies 😉