Dear Agent, Publish Me. Thanks.

My goal this month is focused on getting my book published.  If you want all the gory details leading up to this moment, read my last blog post The Evolution of a Debut Author.

May 1 – I had written down the names of 10 agents a few weeks ago after hours of research.  As a reminder, if you’re looking to get published by a large publishing house, you need to pitch your idea to an agent using a query letter – the agent then requests a copy of your book (or a few chapters, or a proposal, or something similar in nature)…or never writes you back for all of eternity – if they read your book (also called “manuscript”) then they begin pitching it to editors at publishing houses after they’ve agreed to represent you and you’ve signed contracts and debated how much of the share they should get if your book turns movie and who would play you as the main character (I’ve been told Amanda Seyfried is my doppelgänger).  And a mere 1-3 years later…you may have your published/printed book in your slimy little hands.

The agents I had jotted down either had an interest in buzz words that caught my attention like “debut authors,” “bloggers turned authors,” “appreciates quirky humor,” or “essays” or they were the agent on books I was familiar with.  Today I spent time googling some of the people on my list just as a reminder of why I picked these agents and to get an idea of what I need to prepare as I start sending them my query letter because they all request things in a different way.  Some request everything pasted into an email (no attachments), some want a query letter and the first 10 pages of your book, some want a query letter and a few sample chapters.  It really feels like a combination of online dating and applying college.  Everyone is trying to look their best virtually while pretending they have Native American roots or military ties that could justify a scholarship of sorts.

If you’re an aspiring author too, www.agentquery.com is the database of literary agents and a good place to start if you’re seeking an agent (advice given from someone who does not have an agent…yet).

May 2 – I started a google sheet with the list of agents, their email addresses, a column for the date I’m submitting to them, notes about why I chose them, etc.  I’ve learned that when I take on big tasks like this, even though I get super impatient and want to just start on whatever task is ahead of me right away, I do myself huge favors if I just get organized up front.  It’s like applying for a job and then forgetting what company you applied to and what position it was for until you’re sweating through your new suit from Kohls in your second round of interview with people who may sit in the cubicle next to you for the next six years.

Today I sent my first query letter to an agent!

This particular agent required a query letter and the first 10 pages of your manuscript.  I forgot to put “Dear….” or address the person at all in it, and I wasn’t in love with the way my first 10 pages pasted into google mail.  But, it is officially off in cyber space.

May 3 – I checked my google mail a lot of times, because, obviously….an agent has had my query letter for a near 12 hours.

I didn’t feel like logging on tonight but this “send 1 query letter a day” thing is manageable and I have the letter crafted and ready to tweak accordingly.  And…my google sheet is too organized not to want to open and highlight and add the date I sent the letter.

I sent my second query letter.  This particular agent only requires the query letter.  I made it formal by adding the full address of the agent and addressed them by name as all good letters should do.

Two letters officially in cyber space.

Excuse me while I hit “refresh” on my google mail a zillion times.

May 4 – I googled the agent I planned to pitch to today.  And while the logo on their website was cute with a cartoon-like cat with it’s skinny little legs hanging over a couch…the all caps on their website that said “PLEASE NO PERSONAL MEMOIRS” turned me away.  While I’m not calling my book a memoir…some could call the essays “memoir essays” of sorts.  Once I saw the same message not only in all caps but in all caps and underlined, I decided to pick a different agent for the day.

My query letter is officially off to another agent.  It’s the same agent who represented “Marley & Me”…I like to go big sometimes.  You know never know!  And – bonus – her bio on the agency’s website says her response time is generally two weeks.  Maybe fate says her fast response times are meant for my impatient and antsy personality.

***Update****

Before hitting “publish” on this post, I received an email back from this particular agent.  The standard out-of-office message, but the message does confirm that she will respond within two weeks if she’s interested!  Let the two week countdown commence.