I have just submitted 3 query letters to 3 different agents (at different agencies). I selected these three based on their bios, genres they liked and the vibe I got from them.
My question is, how many should I be sending out? I have completed my 75,000 word women's fiction novel and though I still plan to read through it a few more times, it has been edited 3 times now (once by an editor and twice by me). I felt like it was time to start looking!
2 agents said they take 6-8 weeks to reply and the other said 1-2 weeks.
Any feedback you have is welcome!
I am finishing up my query letter so I can start sending it out. I've been using querytracker.com and agentquery.com to research agents (also following quite a few agents on Twitter to get a better feel for them). My plan is to query ten agents, then start researching another batch of ten to query, and so on, until I hopefully find one! I'm not going to wait to hear back from the first batch before I start the next.
If you join querytracker.com (it's free), you can see agent responses that other members have posted. It's very helpful. It gives you a good idea of how quickly certain agents respond, what their form rejections sound like, etc.
Thanks for the tip about querytracker.com...I signed up!
And yeah, after reading all these responses it's clear I need to send more queries to RELEVANT agents :)
Since your last name is not "Steel", I'm guessing you may have to send out a few dozen more queries. I have been through this process for the last two years. I have read every Wall Street Journal article about this topic; I have read every blog and every Literary Agent website from here to Timbuktu. My answer to you is: keep going. If the NY Literary Agents don't like your query, DO NOT take it personally. This is a business. Period. Publishing is not an industry for wimps and people who get offended easily. Don't lose momentum; keep moving. Search for other Agents or go directly to the Publishers. You would be surprised, some publishers react more favorably to an interesting, original, well-researched MS than a jaded, narcissistic, snively, Liberal NY Literary Agent. Of course your last resort is self-publishing via Amazon. Although there is no "advance" when you publish with Amazon, and you will need some money to get some cover art and to upload the MS, the benefits are phenomenal. For one thing, if you sell a large amount of books, your name will miraculously start appearing in the Wall Street Journal, the NY Times and, even better, Publisher's Weekly. Can you imagine Darcie Chan's face when she saw herself mentioned with the likes of venerable writers such as Jeffrey Archer and Janet Evanovich? Once your name and book are "out there" you'll start attracting the attention of Executives at publishing companies and over at Amazon itself, who may choose to court you for a more personal representation. But even if this doesn't happen, you are still free to sell subsidiary rights that might net you a tidy little profit. The business model is rapidly changing in favor of the individual writer, something that never happened before in the history of mankind. A nicely-written (or raunchy) book can generate a tidy little annual divident perhaps for the rest of your natural life. And given that CD's are paying half a percent interest right now, that's not a bad scenario!
"jaded, narcissistic, snively, Liberal NY Literary Agent"
While I know where you're coming from here, this comment really turned me off. A word to the wise--you never know where your next contact is going to come from. Be careful what you say--you catch more bees with honey!
I stand corrected. Even Mark Twain said, "We write frankly and fearlessly but then we "modify" before we print." Perhaps I should have taken out the words "narcissistic" and "snively", but since we're all writers on this forum, I expected everyone (including Ms. Boonstra) to recognize my sweeping generalization as a bit of free-license hyperbole:-)
:) don't take my words too harshly, I just live in NY and have a couple of agent friends--although I am a writer.
I've been laughing about your "Steel" comment all evening :)
It's funny, I'm very green when it comes to the whole agent/publishing industry. I didn't even realize until you pointed it out that most of the agents seem to be based in NY! I am completely open to any location for an agent as long as they are the right agent for me!
And thanks for the insight about self-pub. I am open to going down that road too.
The heart of publishing is good old NY. That's where the majority of agents are located, as well as the majority of the country's psychotherapists. These are industries that feed off and support each other. Now that we've got that squared away, I'll direct you to this earth-shattering expose from the Wall Street Journal (dated December 9th, 2011) called "How I Became a Best-Selling Author" that had the vast majority of agents at the pharmacy increasing their prozac dosages:
Sophie (Your Guardian Angel)
Thank you Sophie. What a wonderful story! It seems like authors can really be empowered these days and take charge of their work and careers, but it requires effort and willingness to market the hell out of yourself! :)
Send as many as you feel comfortable and can keep track of. However, let the agents know you are doing simultaneous submissions. Some don't like that and are exclusive.
That was my feeling too...to send as many as I felt comfortable. I do need to send a few more though... :)
Fingers crossed for you! It can be a daunting process. It was for me. I sent out lots -- too many to remember -- and in the end I wound up with the perfect agent for me & my novel. She sold my story to a big house shortly after I signed on with her. We've enjoyed a good relationship ever since.
I would advise you not to use the term "fiction novel" in your query. It raises the hairs on the backs of their necks. The infamous Query Shark says she stops reading when she comes upon the term.
Good luck. Keep a stream of queries out there. It only takes one yes.