Monday, January 25, 2010

A Tale of Two Queries part 1

It was recently brought to my attention that "agent-getting" stories can be sort of interesting. I hadn't thought of it before, but I suppose that's right. It's always good for writers starting out to hear how those a little farther on got to where they are. To see that it actually does happen. That they're not just sending queries to robots who will read the first two sentences then promptly disintegrate it with their eye lasers.

And, come to think of it, queries are a pretty important and interesting topic no matter where you are. So I'm going to make this query week at My Brain Hurts. Anyone with query questions, please feel free to email me at and I will post them here and answer them. I happen to be something of a query wizard and I will always give my best advice, which you can, of course, take or leave.

I'll also be posting any interesting agent-getting or editor-at-a-publishing-house-getting stories that you guys send, so feel free to send those too.

Along with those two, I'll be posting general knowledge and query tips all week, so get ready to whip your letter into shape!

On to today's topic, though. Query stories. First, I'll tell my story (which is not exactly the norm, as far as how these things work, but pretty cool nonetheless) about how Tha Agent became my agent.

I had been pretty much LIVING queries for a month when I first decided to contact Tha Agent. I spent hours and hours a day glued to my laptop (a fact that did NOT please The Wife very much), researching how to write an impressive query letter (since the first one I wrote may as well have been crayon drawings of ducks), researching different agents and agencies, and looking at agent databases. Through every single search I did, one agent kept popping up at the top. Tha Agent. At first I didn't bother querying him. I had read his client list and his recent sales and figured he was WAY out of my league. After being generally bombarded with his name for two weeks, though, I figured "Hey, why not? The least I can do is say no. Then I can stop getting pissed because he's too good for me."

(As an aside, for those of you who are unaware, the average time - in my experience, at least - for any given agent to respond to a query letter is 1-3 weeks. This is only counting e-queries, since snail mail obviously takes longer, and I'm sure some of you will have had different experiences. This is only mine.)

After sending off the super-duper, ninja-level ass-kicking query I had worked on for a month to Tha Agent, I went to sleep. (It was about 3am at the time, so I was pretty tired.) When I awoke in the morning, there was a reply from Tha Agent in my inbox.

He had requested my full manuscript!

I was overjoyed, of course. This guy who I thought was out of my league wanted to read me. So I sent it out, along with answering his question of "Are any other agents reading it or that have read it?" honestly, telling him there were 5 currently reading it. (I think it was 5. It could have been 3 or 4 too, though.) Then i got dressed and went to breakfast.

When I came home there was another email from Tha Agent in my inbox. This one asked for a synopsis. I sent it out. Went shopping. Went to dinner.

Alas, Tha Agent had rejected me when I got home! I sent off another email, telling him of my other book.

About five seconds later an email simply reading "holy shit, call me now please" was in my inbox.

Tha Agent has been my agent ever since.

And so ends the first query story. Stay tuned, as next time I will be telling you the most ridiculous agent-getting story I've ever heard! Also, query tips, tricks, and secret codes! (and no - up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a, select, start doesn't work - trust me, I've tried it... and received VERY weird looks).


  1. Great story. :)
    So what made him reject the first one and then beg you for the second one? Just curious.

  2. Well, the first one was very good and he liked it, he just didn't think it would bring in enough money to be worth his time. It had a male protagonist, and unfortunately, teenage boys aren't the biggest reading demographic there is. He told me if it had had a female protag he would have gone for it.

    The second book, of course, had a female protag. Problem solved. Now we're doing both books, which will be very fun.

  3. I am going to take credit for influencing you to finally tell your story--can I do that :):)

  4. Yes, indeed. So if Query Week doesn't work out, we all know who to blame, right? ;)

    (Mark this as the first and only time I ever use an emoticon.)