I Now Have A Pimp Who Be Representing
That pimp is Stacia Decker. She, as my agent, will usher my work into the world with her powerful pimp hand.
What I’m trying to say is — in case you missed it — I am now represented by the Donald Maass Agency, which is very exciting. The agency is very well-known for being top-shelf, and it has some particularly excellent clients among its ranks. I’m particularly geeked about being in the same stable as Jim Butcher, Seth Harwood and… ooh, right, Robert McCammon. Be still my beating heart. I have the vapors. I swoon.
Anyway, you may wonder, what did I do to actually procure The Mythical Agent? I know that sometimes during the quest, it felt like I was hunting the elusive Chupacabra.
Do I have advice?
Well, I dunno. Fact is, I had some luck this time around ideally because the novel wasn’t a total shit-fest. Then again, maybe someone threw a dart, and it landed on my name.
Beyond that, here’s what I did.
I wrote what felt like a competent query letter. I went over it several times, and edited it several times. I had the wife read it to make sure it not only made sense, but felt compelling. I wrote three paragraphs — the Hook, a one-sentence description; the Pitch, a larger description of the book comprising an entire paragraph; the Bio, a paragraph detailing Me And My Many Splendors*.
Then I sent it out to 30 or so agents starting in the middle of October. About 3-5 a day.
I chose agents generally using Agent Query. I made sure that the agents wanted the kind of book I was shopping around; I didn’t carpet bomb the entire literary agent industry. I did a little research into each agent before sending, and when possible included some element in the letter that suggested that I did my research. If an agent in some interview somewhere said, “I’m really looking for novels with gay walrus computer hackers,” I might say, “My novel doesn’t feature a gay walrus computer hacker, but it does feature a bisexual narwhal computer hacker. Perhaps that would interest you?” Further, I addressed each by their name when possible.
I kept the letter portion of my query mercifully short, and framed it around the query itself.
I sent only email queries.
I made sure my subject header included the word “Query” and had the project name, word count, and genre/elements listed.
I did not pretend to be a beautiful and unique snowflake for whom the rules do not apply. I didn’t send gifts. I didn’t use some special stationary — vellum, or what-not.
Unless they asked, I didn’t attach anything. Any part of the manuscript was cut-and-pasted into the body of the email. Times New Roman font, 12-points.
At the end of this day, about a month and a week after starting, I’ve had six straight-up rejections, and three requests for manuscript. Curiously, I today got another (very polite) rejection, and it somehow only made me feel happier to have received it.
Stacia picked up on what I was trying to do, and when we spoke about the project, she got it. I mean, she got it-got it. Whatever weird frequency I was emitting out of my skull when I wrote that book, she possessed the antenna to pick it up. Her suggested changes were spot on, and right in line with my desires for the book.
When I finally signed the papers, I sent a polite mail to the other agents considering the MS telling them so sorry, thanks much, I’m a taken man.
And that was that, really.
Be persistent, but not annoying.
Be polite, but not cloying.
Be professional, with a touch of the personal.
And best of all, don’t turn in a hunk of fossilized dinosaur dung and pretend it’s a novel.
At least, that’s what I suspect did it. See earlier theory, re: dart and my name.
* should be read with sarcasm.