I heard a long time ago that the definition of insanity is, “doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting different results.”
I bring that up because that was my problem. Because of twitter, I’ve been getting a lot of the same question: How did you get an agent? On the surface, the question seems benign–simple. However, there’s a lot to what I went through before that took place. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing and sure as heck didn’t have any pull with anyone, so I was literally starting from scratch.
The first thing I did was get some books on the subject. I not only didn’t know what I was doing, but I didn’t even understand the language. I didn’t know what a query was. I didn’t know what a synopsis was or how to construct one. Everything was new.
After writing a query, I started sending them out. I didn’t know if hard copy letters were better than e-mail so I did them both. What I discovered was that the biggest difference between the two was that e-mail query “no” simply came back faster than those from hard copy letters. No one was interested in my work. That shocked me. Duh!!!
I decided that I must be doing something wrong so I changed the content of the query and started over again. Same strategy. Same results. Dozens of returned letters and e-mails all with the same bottom line. No. No thanks. Hell no.
I did get one agent who had retired who requested the first 50 pages and wrote back to me after reading the work and using the entire contents of a red marker what I needed to do to possibly get better results. I was just stupid enough to get pissed off. Instead of heeding her advice, I threw it away. Not the sharpest tack in the box.
I went through that same process several more times–same results–before finally giving up. I had run out of ideas. I had run out of patience. I had run out of gas. So I quit. Not permanently, mind you. I just needed a break.
One day I had an epiphany and decided that what I needed to do was find someone who actually succeeded at what I wanted to happen and started writing letters. Not to agents–to authors. I needed help and I wasn’t to proud to ask for it. I figured that they more than likely wouldn’t be inclined to help, but what the hell? I didn’t have anything to lose. Guess what? I got turned down there too. Many time as a matter of fact.
Then I got that ONE letter that made all the difference. Someone who took the time and made suggestions that mattered.
I made my changes. I sent out new queries. I got positive feedback. I got the agent. There was still a lot of work that needed done to make it acceptable. I needed someone to edit the work for me and hired a teacher that could make the changes necessary to make the work worthy of a proper review. But it worked. Will it work for you? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just stupid enough to not know that I couldn’t do it. Whatever. Maybe by stepping out of your comfort zone, you can get the help you need too.
It could happen.