Now that the dust has settled, the paperwork is signed, my sleep deficit is somewhat reduced and I’ve had a celebratory beer (or, well, a third of a beer, but breastfeeding, y’know) I guess I can announce that I have an agent! I am now represented by Kurestin Armada of P.S. Literary. She is splendid and I am tremendously excited.
I will eventually do a “here’s my full querying story” post, because I read half a hundred of those over the past few years and found them reassuring, inspiring and generally interesting. But for now, a few key lessons from my experience of the past few months:
Don’t get too hung up on formulas or rules. I workshopped my query with a few different audiences, and got a number of varying “a query must have x format” responses. Don’t get me wrong: query structure formulas can be a fantastic place to start understanding the work a query letter has to do so you can put your own together. And you should make your decisions to deviate based on solid reasons for your book. But don’t be afraid to deviate when you have those solid reasons, even if internet wisdom seems to say otherwise.
Don’t be discouraged if your query doesn’t set the world on fire. So many query-to-call stories seem to be full of excitement – oodles of requests and eager agents falling over each other. But to a certain extent, I think it depends on what you’re writing and what’s hot right now. At the moment YA seems to be getting more attention than writing for growed-ups, and of course what you do and how you do it isn’t going to be to everyone’s tastes. You really, genuinely, absolutely don’t need every agent you query to request. You only need one. (But I admit, it’s nice to have more.) At the end of the day, I had a 25% request rate on my book, and it happened sloooowly over the course of the months I was querying (until the end, when everything happened in a flurry).
Don’t rush agents if you can help it. After my first offer of rep came through and I started nudging with a need to decide, a number of agents who I would’ve loved the chance to consider (…obviously, or I wouldn’t have queried them) bowed out because they couldn’t review my manuscript before the deadline.
And truly, seriously, desperately, if you can avoid it at all, don’t go into labour the same day you get your first offer of rep. I’m not even kidding, my life has a terrible sense of humour. More about that in due course, though!