Updated: Jan 20
How I Got My Agent
This was my second time in the query trenches. My first time was in 2019 and I published my debut through a small press. My debut released in July of 2020, one month after the birth of my second baby. In the middle of a pandemic. (But that’s a post for another time.)
This time around, I queried my manuscript (a YA sci-fi mystery about the Roswell incident of 1947) from March 2022- Oct 2022 and received 2 agent offers! 2! That’s 2 agent offers more than I received in 2019! It was definitely hard to say ‘no’ to the other agent, but I’m happy to say that I’m now represented by Jonathan Rosen of the Seymour Agency. Jonathan is also an author and a podcast host alongside Ike Eisenmann on Pop Culture Retro!
I hate to list stats because I don’t know that they truly help anybody…but I’m always curious, so here you go:
Query period March 2022- Oct 2022
Agents queried: 91
Agent Full Requests: 6
Agent offers: 2
Small press publishers queried: 32
Publisher Full requests: 8
Publisher offers: 2
13 Tips for Querying
Listen, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over these past few years in the writing world, it’s that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to publishing. If it’s not too weird, I’d like to compare it to pregnancy. With my pregnancies, I had advice coming at me from doctors, family members, friends, random people in the grocery store, and of course - the internet. Yes, there are a few things you should do to keep yourself and the baby healthy, but pregnancy affects everyone differently. Not everyone has your body. Not everyone wants to constantly eat and gain 40+ pounds. (my situation) And that’s just the pregnancy. Don’t even get me started on the opinion-hell you enter the second that baby is born.
So, all this is to say don’t compare yourself to the other querying writers out there. Just because your Twitter BFF is getting 10 full requests a week and you’re getting spam emails from a cookie delivery company doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. It only takes one yes. But you have to be willing to do something almost harder than pushing for 3 hours and delivering a 9 pound baby right after the epidural wore off:
You can’t give up.
If this is TLDR, that’s my bottom line.
Don’t. Give. Up.
But if you’re here for the whole thing, here are my tips:
1. Have multiple people read your manuscript
Edit as you see fit (for me, it meant a complete re-write and another round of critiques), then make sure your opening pages are spectacular. Also, consider removing your prologue.
2. Research query letter structure and keep it quick and to the point
3. Get on Twitter because you’ll make a bunch of friends through # amquerying
5. Check out QueryTracker for agent statuses and feedback time
I never signed up for an account, but I know some writers loved that feature, which brings
6. Create a query spreadsheet
Make a separate tab for agents and publishers
7. Do all the Twitter pitch events
8. Query new agents!
They are actively building their lists, while more established agents may only be taking on
a couple new clients a year
9. Query small presses!
If your goal is to get published, small press is a great option (see my blog post!)
10. If you get an offer from a small press, tell the agents who have your full!
11. Continue to edit your MS as you query
12. Know that agent rep does not = automatic publication! Even with an agent, your book can still ‘die on sub’
13. Believe in luck and timing
My agent was the only agent open to queries at the time who had the X-files on his MSWL (a comp for my MS) and was a new agent building his list. Sometimes luck plays a large role in this process and it's not just about your writing.
I hope something in this post was helpful to you, even if you just ended up binging Pop Culture Retro episodes. Querying sucks. Don’t go through it alone. Make writer friends and if you haven't smiled today, watch this.