Although I’ve self-published before (see The Redemption of Erâth at www.authorsatis.com), I made the decision a while ago that for A Gothic Symphony, I would make every effort to publish traditionally. I feel it’s a story that deserves a platform, and a market, and I really just don’t have the ability to do those things myself.
In my (probably hasty) research into the matter, I soon discovered that agents are the must-have link between the author and the rest of the publishing world—they are your first point of contact, the go-between, and the person who will (hopefully) fight for your book to be sold, and promoted, and do well.
So as I approached the final pages of the manuscript, I started looking into how one queries agents. And let me tell you, there’s a format, a process, and a whole mess of rules that you don’t want to screw around with. I came across some helpful blog posts that suggest how to write a query letter (the ‘pitch’ to the agent, essentially), and www.agentquery.com has been pretty useful for this. I also discovered a free eBook called How to Land (and Keep) a Literary Agent by Noah Lukeman, which has been guiding me toward the light (in fact, it’s the reason I started this blog).
In general, it seems, most agents are looking for a hook, a tiny synopsis, and a reason to think you’re the right person to write this story. Distilling a 300-page manuscript into a single paragraph is daunting, and takes a lot of hard work. I don’t know if I’m quite there yet, but I’m working on it—and it will improve with each new revision.
So far I’ve queried around ten agents, primarily focusing in the Young Adult category (although there are definitely adult themes in A Gothic Symphony, the main protagonists are teenagers). So far I’ve had three rejections. The thing is, I was fully anticipating this. Maybe they don’t like the story. Maybe they didn’t like the pitch. The ones that give me feedback are helping to hone the query letter and synopsis. The ones that don’t simply tell me to try again, and try harder.
I’ll keep you up to date with my query efforts (and rejections) as they come; and we’ll wait with bated breath for the day one gets accepted!