The most important thing to know about the querying process is that it's different for every person. You're searching for an agent who is passionate and excited about your work. Agents are searching for work to be passionate and excited about. It's a ton of hard work, but also the luck of having the right thing for the right each other at just the right moment.
There were a few resources that I found especially helpful in my #amquerying search:
1. The #writingcommunity on Twitter.
The folks in this community lifted me up on hard days, offered their advice and shared their experiences. This positive community made my querying richer, more fun and made me feel like part of something during what can be a lonely time.
While I was never in Pitch Wars I did receive a ton of support from the community-- mentors, aspiring mentees and former participants all took time to share advice and offer each other support.
I loved the premium version of this tool which is just $25 per year. I was able to find information about agents, see if they were open to queries, track where they were in their inbox and track my own queries all in one place. This tool was amazing for allowing me to remember how long it had been since I queried someone, track my requests and see how my experience compared to others.
This was a great tool for seeing what agents represent in the marketplace. It's a little costly at $29 per month, but well worth it if it's in your budget to take your understanding of the industry to the next level.
5. #MSWL website
This site is a must-use for anyone who is querying agents. The updated and detailed wishlists help you decide who to send your work to and also help you tailor the opening of your query to the agent you are reaching out to. It helps you do your homework and then show agents you did your homework.
All five of these resources helped me but no one helped me as much as my writing partners. My best friends, biggest cheerleaders, constant advisors and fellow writers mean the world to me. If you don't have your writing friends lined up that's a great first step. I couldn't do anything with my writing without these amazing humans.
Now for the story...
It took several years to get here
I've been writing, editing, learning, going to conferences and learning my craft for more than ten years. I have a full-time job as a marketer and four kids so I've been busy over the last ten years as I've been doing all this. I've gone out and queried a few times here and there, but last year I decided to set a serious goal for myself. I worked with an editor and I got very serious about my career and my latest book. When I finished my YA, Darkest Time, I went straight to querying and to drafting a new MG novel at the same time. While I queried I finished the middle grade draft, started drafting a romance for fun and even finished it. I was out querying for a couple of months.
Not every agent asked me for the full
I'd been out on submission for a while and had about 20% of the agents I sent to ask for fulls. It didn't seem like a great hit rate and I was starting to wonder if I should pull back. One agent who had the full told me she loved the story and the writing but she didn't feel like she was the right agent to position the book in this market. That one hurt, but I was determined not to give up.
#Pitmad played a role
I did #Pitmad and I only had one small press like the Tweet. I decided not to pitch to them but I didn't delete the Tweet. Several weeks later out of no where an agent liked my #Pitmad tweet. She didn't come up in my research on querytracker but her website seemed strong so I sent her the first three chapters. She quickly requested the full.
Then one day I opened my email and there was an offer of representation in my inbox. I was in shock. At first I couldn't believe it was real. I had a great conversation with the agent and appreciated her passion for the book and for my career. I spoke to one of her current clients. At the same time I followed up with two other agents who had my full, including one who I considered a dream agent. I felt like it was a long-shot but I was hopeful that they would consider me. I sent them both polite emails letting them know that I had an offer of representation.
My dream agent turned out to be the one!
Analieze got back to me right away and let me know when I could expect to hear from her. She was the dream agent and when I got an email from her on the day she'd indicated asking if I wanted to chat I was floored. I admit I danced around my living room some. Still, I wasn't sure she would offer, I only hoped.
We made an appointment to talk that afternoon and she blew me away. She had a plan written up to share with me and so much passion for the book and characters. I hated to let the other agents know I had gone another way, especially the first because she had been the first to believe in the story, but I know that I did the right thing for me and my career.
Now I'm incredibly grateful to be a client of Analieze and Harvey Klinger Literary Agency. I know this is the first gate and I have more to walk through-- including finding the right publishing home for Darkest Time. But I also know that with Analieze by my side I'm closer than ever.
I hope me sharing this story reminds you not to give up on your dreams. This business is subjective and if you have a story to tell don't stop trying to bring it to the world. I had a lot of learning to do and it took me some time to get to the point where I could write everyday and learn enough to become the kind of writer I wanted to become. I have faith that you will find your path too.