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Query Status ~ Week 3

My queries have been out for three weeks, and the good news is that an agent has asked to see my full manuscript! (Yay)

Now, for the bothersome bits. My internet was down, so I didn’t see her email until late that afternoon. That’s not a big deal. It’s been going down every day for the last week, but it normally comes back up after a few hours. (The cable guy is coming later today to find out what’s wrong…I hope.) The really stressful thing was, I had to check my email on my Kindle Fire tablet because the day before she sent her reply, the laptop I had Troubled Space (and all my other books) on decided to crash. Yes, that created a moment of panic, I don’t mind saying. I had backed up my files of course, but the last time was about two months ago, before my final edits.

So…. I call the repair shop I brought my computer to that morning and asked if they could save that one file. They said they could, and I rushed there with a flash drive in hand, got the file, brought it home, opened it on my son’s laptop using the Open Office clone of Word he has on it, put my name and page numbers on the MS, and sent it back to her. I haven’t heard anything more from her since. I hope she 1) got it, 2) likes it, 3) agrees to take it on. I suppose all I can do is wait and hope.

Twenty-two other agents have not yet responded to my queries. The repair shop still has my laptop. (They’re putting in a new hard drive.) Unable to accomplish anything, and still feeling stressed, I bought myself a new tower computer. I spent most of the last two days configuring the thing. Of course, my internet went down several times while I was doing so, but it came back often enough to download the programs and drivers I needed. My new computer is now almost functional. I’m using it to write this blog post. Oh, and my doctor’s office called to say I had an abnormal EKG and is sending me in for some nasty investigative procedure to see how bad my arteries are clogged, or something like that. But compared to having an agent request my full manuscript, that’s a trivial matter. It’s been a great week!

Query Status ~ Week 2

It’s been two weeks since I sent out the last of thirty-six queries for my (as yet) unpublished book Troubled Space. The spate of instant knee-jerk rejections now seems to have ended. I got half as many over the last seven days as I did on the first week, now making a total of twelve. The bright spot is that two-thirds of the agents I queried did not instantly reject it. I can only hope that some of them may actually consider representing me. Who knows? Stranger things have happened.

Of course I’m not just waiting around for some unknown agent to acknowledge my existence. I’m also not diving into to writing my next book. I’ve decided instead to take time to produce new editions of my Warden’s World stories. There are a few reasons for this. The first is that they need new covers. I have five novels set in this world, and the covers don’t look much alike. I think they should, and soon they will. They also need a bit of revision. These were the first novels I ever wrote, and I was pretty nervous about publishing them. Before I did, I reviewed as much guidance as I could about the whole process, and I ended up following a lot of bad advice. Basically, I over-edited and ended screwing up the tenses and making the prose choppy. My goal is to correct the corrections I made trying to follow the ‘rules.’

The first book to get a makeover will the An Android Dog’s Tale. It’s a prequel to the others and probably the shortest of the bunch at around 75,000 words. It may also be my best seller. I’m not talking bestseller as in toping anyone’s charts, but it’s either in the top (or possibly the second top) sales spot for my books. It’s currently getting over 100 Kindle downloads per month and a few more in other formats. The revised version is almost done and should be out within the next month. (I considered showing the new cover in this post but decided against it. I have a proof copy of the new paperback sitting on my desk. Take my word for it; it looks damn good.)

So, that’s my writing time accounted for until at least the end of the year. I’ll be revising five books, creating new covers for them, and releasing new digital and trade paperback editions.

Oh, and I’ll also be waiting to hear back from agents.

Queries away!

I spent the last two mornings sending out queries. Twenty-seven lucky agents now have the opportunity to ask to ask to see my manuscript, or (more likely) to ignore me. All together, sending those queries took me probably eight hours, not counting the time it took to put together the template for the letters or writing the synopsis. Those took up all my allotted writing time for the last week or so. It’s surprisingly difficult to adequately summarize a 400+-page novel in two double-spaced pages. I know I didn’t, but perhaps I did well enough. I suppose I’ll find out.

As for the letters themselves, they’re not all letters. Forget snail-mail. Hardly anyone demands paper, although a very few will still accept paper as an alternative if you can’t use email. But some now use online forms. Like the requirements for the email submissions, no two of those are identical. All agents want to see something about your previous writing experience and a paragraph about the story you’re pitching to them, but some also want to see a two-page synopsis of the story. Some want to see the first three pages of your manuscript, or the first fifty, or something in between. This means you can’t just write one standard letter that works for everyone. Figuring out what each agent wants takes research and time. Some are even picky about the subject line for the query.

This kind of confuses me. Why is there such a difference? Agents are all in the same business, so shouldn’t they all want to see the same stuff? I especially wonder about those who only want to see a short query. I wouldn’t think you could tell much from just that. My first guess is that these agents aren’t all that interested in finding new clients, or that they are looking for something specific, something there is a known market for, such as fantasy stories about snarky dragons or sexy vampires of zombie detectives or something like that, but I could be wrong. The same goes for those who only want to see a synopsis, or the first three manuscript pages. Very few stories really get going in three double-spaced pages. Yeah, you can do a short story in that length, but the settings and characters for a novel require a bit more development, especially for science fiction and fantasy because the author is pretty much creating an entire new world. It would seem to me that in this digital age, agents might as well ask for at least the first fifty pages. That doesn’t mean they have to read all of them. They can still reject after the first line in the query letter, which I’m sure is not uncommon, but if they want to see more, it’s there.

Oh, well. That’s their job, not mine. I’m sure they know what they’re doing. I just can’t help thinking that they’re probably missing out on some great stuff.

More Pointless Agent Queries

After a long and futile search for an agent to represent my ninth novel, I published it myself last month. I even sold a few copies. (Yay me.) I hope the people who bought it like it. I also hope some of them will write reviews, but that may be asking too much. I see (maybe) one review for every 500 to 1,000 downloads. (I don’t keep stats on this, but I really appreciate each and every review my books get, even if they aren’t 5 stars.)

Researching who to send queries to, creating a synopsis, putting together the letters, and actually submitting the things took time, of course, but once all that was done, it was simply a matter of waiting, hoping an agent or a publisher might call. That didn’t mean I had free time. I wasn’t idle. I was working on my next book. I began the outline for it about a year ago. Now, it’s done. I have a good final draft, anyway. It comes in at a bit over 107,000 words, and I think it’s the best one I’ve done yet (but I always think that).

So, what I am doing now? I’m sending queries again, of course. The first batch went out this morning. Yeah, I know it’s probably pointless, but a writer’s got to do what a writer’s got to do. Banging your head on the great wall of traditional publishing is part of the process.

The ironic thing is, when I began this project, I planned on NOT looking for an agent or a traditional publisher for it. I intended this to be an indie book about an indie writer. No, it’s not an autobiography. It’s science fiction. My chosen title is Troubled Space: The Interstellar Adventures of an Unknown Indie Writer. My one-sentence pitch for it is Indie author Theodor Lester never imagined his books might save the world, but one does, which he discovers when an alien who wants to be his agent abducts him.

Since it’s about an indie author who has some definite opinions about the publishing industry, I figured no agent would want to touch it. But once I completed the manuscript, I figured what the hell. It’s a damn good story. At least I think so, and who could be a better judge? I’m both an indie writer and a fan of lighthearted space operas. This is exactly the kind of book I’d want to read.

So, I did my research and compiled a list of agents who might appreciate something like this. I made note of their individual submission requirements, and today I began the quite possibly pointless process of tailoring and sending query letters. (I know alliteration is juvenile, but I like it.) My agent list is fairly short, but I expect it will be a few more days before I’ve sent the last query. Once I’m done, I plan to work on a short story I’ve had bouncing around in the back of my mind for a while. After that, well, I’m not entirely sure, but I’ll be working on something.

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