Last week a certain agent ran a query contest – for one hour (from 8am to 9am EST), she would accept any and all query letters to her e-mail address. In exchange, she would offer complete and honest feedback. I figured my query letter is polished so why the heck not? Fellow authors can only provide so much feedback so I sent it off.
This morning I got the response that the agent was passing.
After I got done with the whole wailing and gnashing of teeth, I figured I’d look a bit closer:
1. This just isn’t for me. I’m not quite grabbed by the character or the plot at all.
Strangely, while probably the most biting comment, this didn’t bother me at all. This agent and I would not have been a good fit. I knew that before I submitted the material. One look at the authors she represents told me that much but I was after honest feedback and this was honest.
Now fellow authors, this isn’t a death blow. Don’t start shouting ‘OH GOD, she hates my work! I’m worthless!” and run toward the nearest bridge. It is most certainly not ‘That no good HACK! They wouldn’t know quality if it bit them in the ass!’
Yeah, don’t do that. It’s bad.
Manuscripts are rejected. Authors are not. It’s not personal. Not every book works for everyone. I can list off dozens of bestselling books that I didn’t like but other people adore and vice versa. Heck, Harry Potter was rejected by at least a dozen publishers (to say nothing of agents) before it was picked up and became a phenomenon.
You *have* to have an agent/editor/publisher that believes in your work. Otherwise it’s going to be impossible for them to sell it for you. This is incredibly important. I’ve spoken to authors who have passed on great agents or deals simply because the chemistry wasn’t there or the other party wanted to take the book someplace the author wasn’t comfortable. So get it right.
2. I’m going to pass on GENIE WISHES.
The name of my manuscript is Genie Memories.
Now, normally I’d get a bit snippy that the agent got it wrong but I do know from scanning her blog she got almost 700 queries. After a little while, those titles have got to start blurring together. What I did find interesting was where the brain went while looking at the title. Obviously she knew that it had Genie in the title and she immediately went with Wishes vs Memories.
That said, it brings up something else I saw this agent mention on Twitter: After 150 queries, I find it really irritating when someone spells my name wrong. Yes, the agent can get the title of your manuscript wrong. They get a pass. You, however, cannot get their name wrong. No pass for you.
3. Also 72K is short of adult science fiction. Most are at least 85K.
One – Genie Memories is 74,000 words, as mentioned in my query. I’ll chalk this up to blurry eyes after so many queries. I look at this as meaning that she made it to the bottom of the query letter so that’s a positive.
Two – I disagree somewhat with this statement. Books are as long as they need to be to tell the story. I’ve got quite a few on my shelves that are less than 85,000 and I can think of a number of pretty famous books that are under 70,000.
However, my quibble might come from not knowing the publishing industry as well as I’d like. Maybe it’s a printing or selling issue. Either way, I’m not going to argue too much but at that same time, I’m not positive I can change this. My attempts to add more to Genie Memories failed because it felt and was fluff.
So where do I go from here? Not far, really. I’m pretty confident in the query letter. The synopsis needs a little bit of trimming but that shouldn’t take more than a night of work. By the end of this week, I should be able to start sending it out to the top agents on my list. Then I sit back and wait. And work on the next book, of course.