Month of Submissions, Week 3: Lessons Learned So Far

Agents Queried: 7
Publishers Submitted: 0
Short Stories Submitted: 3

And we’re off! This week, I got into the querying portion of my month of submission and it’s really been a learning process. As a result, I’d thought I’d share a few of the lessors I’ve learned thus far.

1. Setting Time Aside for Submitting Your Work is a Really Good Idea- Seriously. I’m not saying you need to set aside an entire month for it like I did, but this takes A LOT more time then you might think. I say that even with having all of the pieces already written in advance. The process of locating a potential agent, looking through their website to make sure they’re a good match, carefully reading over the submission guidelines, putting all of the material together, and formatting that in an email so it looks all professional has taken me a minimum of forty-five minutes per agent. Like pretty much every stage of the writing process, this takes time.

2. Go in Prepared, and BE Organized- I am SO happy I had a query letter, synopsis, and the manuscript all polished going in. I am also happy that I had a handful of agents in mind. I kind of wish that I had written a one or two page synopsis instead of a six page one. Not everyone has a page count in mind, but when they do, they’re looking for the shorter one. To help keep everything in line, I ended up creating a spreadsheet on Open Office Calc with columns for the agents name, agency, email address, website, the relevant genres they represent, the similar authors they’ve represented in the past, if they’re currently accepting queries, email or snail mail, info from preditors and editors (more on that later), when the query went out, and any additional notes. It’s probably more complicated that it needs to be, but it makes it so I know which agents I’ve queried, and which ones I’ve just researched.

3. Agents Don’t Always want the Same Thing- Some agents want only a query letter. Some want a query letter, and a synopsis. Some want a query letter, a synopsis, and a novel excerpt (10 pages? 25 pages? 35 pages? First three chapters?). Some want a query letter and a resume (with what on it, I ask? This one I haven’t figured out yet). Some even want you to put your submissions IN THE MAIL. The only thing agents seem to have in common is they are very specific in what they want. Also, every agent I’ve come across so far that takes equeries wants it in the body of an email. No attachments allowed.

4. Make Sure You’re Going After Legitimate Resources- Have you been to Preditors and Editors? It’s a great resource for wanna-be authors like myself who want to make sure that the agency they’re dealing with is legitimate. Not every agent is going to be on here, but if they’ve been caught doing unethical things, you’ll find out here so you can avoid them like the plague. This website will also highlight highly recommended agents and give you very basic information, such as if they’re a part of AAR.

5. Make Sure Your Books Matches your Agent- I’ve begun my searches through my own bookshelf. I find books that are close enough to Lady of Darkwood (a young adult fantasy novel) and see who those authors are using as literary agents. From there, I check out their websites, where there’s typically either a list of the type of books they represent, or a list of the things they’re looking for. Other good resources I’ve found for finding out what agents represent are QueryTracker, and AgentQuery. They agency’s website still seems to the best place to go for information though, as I’ve found conflicting information on QueryTracker and AgentQuery.

It’s been quite a week, especially as I’ve done this while putting in ten extra hours at work this week. On a positive note, I’ve already heard back from one agent, and they wanted to read more (the first 35 pages)! I’m trying not to get my hopes up on this one, but out of all the agents I contacted this week, this one was my first choice. I hope they are interested in reading further.

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6 thoughts on “Month of Submissions, Week 3: Lessons Learned So Far

      • Thank you. My work in progress seems to be more work and less progress lately. Ha ha.

        Hopefully, I will have this beast complete by November. My self-imposed deadline because I have some training for work that will eat up the rest of the year. Maybe this time next year, I will have a finished product that I can start to send out.

        I sincerely hope that a year from now, everyone is reading your book, you have to block calls from that Dan Brown character who wants writing advice and that JK Rowlings lady who is always asking for money!

        Keep Smiling!

      • I think having a self imposed deadline can be a good motivator. If you’re under the illusion that you have all the time in the world, it’s so hard to move forward,

        And I highly appreciate your hopes! I don’t think my story is the type to encourage such massive success, but having a book on the shelves that people honesty enjoy and revisit would make me all types of happy.

        Good luck on your work in progress!

  1. Awesome! Thanks so much for sharing your process (and progress). Whenever I hit this stage, I’m probably going to return to this entry and hound you. 🙂

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