I’d like to say that right at this moment in-boxes are pinging, alerting agents that they have a new message, one containing my query letter and first few chapters of my newly named book but that would only be partly true because I’ve been sending them over the last few days. It was incredibly mentally draining.
The process of finding agents and getting that all important query letter ready has been very stressful for me. For the most part I’ve felt that I’m swimming in a turbulent sea, surrounded by rafts full of other aspiring authors that know just what they are doing. They are have lists of dream agents and know just what they want from them. They know the differences between US and UK agents and whether it’s alright to query both. I barely knew where to start and keeping my head above water has been exhausting. I realise that other aspiring authors probably feel just as confused and stressed as me but from the outside it didn’t appear that way. So much information online seemed to contradict itself and while articles always talk about the important of knowing what you want from an agent, they never say exactly what those things should be. Trying to fit all my plot points into a one page synopsis without sounding dull was another challenge that brought me close to pulling my hair out at times.
At some point, I managed to swim close to one of rafts and haul my sodden self into it. I began to see where my confusion was coming from. My list of agents started to come together and my query letter suddenly turned from a jumble of words to something I was rather chuffed with. Though my synopsis is still a bone of contention.
How that happened? I wish I could say but it all just started to make sense, to seem a little less daunting. One thing that made a huge difference was realising that the format of query letters change depending if you are querying UK or US agents. Discovering this really cleared some of the confusion with the apparently contradicting information I was reading. As I decided to try my luck with agents from both countries I ended up having two different versions of my query letter.
As for finding the agents themselves, my list was complied from a few sources. Firstly I looked in the acknowledgments of books I owned that were similar to my own and then searched for them online. Afterwards I searched for lists of agents accepting historical fantasy on helpful blogs and then I found Query Tracker.
A lot of the agents I had found from books where still accepting historical fantasy, others were not so searching for compiled lists or using Query Tracker gave me the bulk of my list. Also I found following agents on twitter if possible really helped as not only did it give me a sense of who they were as people but some turned out to not be such a great fit as I’d first thought due to them currently preferring other genres.
Then there were all the extra little details like trying to figure out what format emails should be sent in, something I have a sinking feeling I did wrong with the first lot of queries I sent out.
There was so much too take in and needless to say at times my poor dyslexic brain couldn’t handle it. Despite feeling slightly less frazzled by it all I still cant help feeling like I have no idea what I’m doing.
So now I’m currently huddled in my raft, shivering with a churning mix of excitement and mostly stress. I’m sending flares into the sky and hoping one of the giant ships on the horizon will come, scoop me up and say those wonderful words ‘Yes, welcome aboard our agency’
I know that this is going to likely be many rounds of hopefully sending emails off to get polite rejections in return. I have already grown used to the high excitement and terror met months later by disappointment as I have sent many short stories to magazines. But at least I’m not swimming anymore, I can try to dry off and begin to think about writing again, for pleasure if nothing else.