So, I’m submitting DEAD PERFECT (previously titled AS IF I KNEW…had to, you know, get on the dark side with all the other young adult bestsellers) to literary agents. So far, I have sent query letters to 45 agents. Some just want the query: a pitch for the novel (like what you read on the inside flap of a hardback and the back cover of a paperback), the reason I think they might be the right agent to represent my work, and MY credentials. (Ha! That last bit is a very short paragraph.) Others like a synopsis of the plot and maybe the first few pages or chapters of the manuscript.
Oh, yeah—and you have to write this query letter in your own personal style, known in the business as voice. AND it has to sound professional. Like my voice is ever gonna sound
professional, as they are kinda diametrically opposed. A teenage friend once read a bit of one of my manuscripts and said, well, squealed, “Ohmigod! You write just like you talk!” Which is scary considering I shudder every time I hear my Texas/Iowa/South Dakota/Arizona/Arkansas accented voice on the answering machine (“Cojones! Don’t ya know, ya’ll.)
Let me just say the whole thing is a challenge.
And, if I was sensitive, I might be a little crushed by now. But I’m not. Sensitive like that. Much.
Out of 45 query letters, so far I’ve received 3 Form Rejections. Those are the worst. The agent probably has a button on her keyboard, a red one most likely, for these e-mails that begin: “Dear Author”. They’re generic and include all this fake nice stuff about the writing not ‘being a good fit’ for them. Whatever. At least I can cross them off my list or maybe obliterate their name from my notebook with a skull-and-crossbones stamp.
I’ve received 4 Nice Rejections: e-mails that started “Dear Vic” and made reference to DEAD PERFECT. They might be fill-in-the-blanks type forms, but at least I feel like a person worthy of a name when I open them. I cross these agents off my list but write ‘nice’ by their name.
The best are the Personal Rejections. (Although you might think a personal rejection is worse than a generic one, it’s just the opposite.) I’ve received 2 of these and those agents have a little heart beside the X. They saluted me by name, mentioned the title and told me little things about my writing and my characters that will help me become a better writer. I would hug both these women if they didn’t live so far away in New York and North
Since I only got Form Rejections on the last manuscript I sent out, I must be improving. And as long as I’m learning, I’ll keep on writing. And one day someone’s gonna love my Texas/Iowa/South Dakota/Arizona/Arkansas voice.