Saturday, January 7, 2012

Waiting Game

Now the waiting game begins.  I put the query letter in the mail this evening.  It will be picked up from the post office box at 11:30 am tomorrow (I checked), and will take, with first class postage, two, maybe three days, to get to New York, not counting Sunday.  Add another day minimum for the mail room shuffle in the agent's building, and... And I'll already be a nervous wreck, even before the poor agent has my envelope in hand. 

Let me state that patience is not one of my virtues and that fear does nothing to improve on that situation. All my demons will be dancing tonight, and in the weeks to come, swirling round, taunting me and telling me that there's no chance in hell that this agent, or any other for that matter, will want to represent me.  The pity party will go on and on and on.

Unfortunately, for any writer querying a new/different agent, the odds are not in our favor. Based on what I've read and heard, I have at best a 50% chance that the agent will even read my query letter--I'm sure they get hundreds, maybe thousands a week. Mine could be on the bottom of  a stack the height of the Eiffel tower or could slip behind/under/into a desk, or another dimension. Or the building could catch on fire, burning only my query letter.

If, by some stroke of luck, the agent receives and reads my query letter, I may have a 25% chance that s/he will be interested.  Those two percentages already cut my chances of getting a nod of approval down to 12.5%.  Much of that 12.5% is based in little things. If, by another, different, not-the-same stroke of luck, s/he hasn't just had the worst day of their life, and they like what I've written, you would think it's in the bag, right?  Nope there are still a hundred other factors that could get me shot down, such as: is s/he in the mood to take on a new-new client (you know, someone who has yet to fall off the turnip truck)?  Does the firm have an opening for a "women's literature" writer? Although  I did confirm that this agent works in the literary fiction genre, most firms only have so many slots per genre.  And then there's the money angle, because that's why an agent is working, to make money.  Does s/he think my book will sell? It can be the most well written book on the planet, but if it's not sell-able... well, these guys gotta make a living, which means representing authors who will sell books.

I'm thinking, if fate is on my side, if all the cards line up, if all my monkeys are in the barrel, I may have a 5% chance of scoring this agent as a representative. 

If you haven't read Stephen King's book On Writing, I strongly suggest you do. The first half of the book is a memoir of how he came to be a famous writer.  He tells a compelling story, not glossing over anything. When he was a teenager, he kept all his rejection slips impaled on a nail in the wall in his room. J.K.Rowling was rejected by more than ten different publishing house (all kicking their own butts right now) before she found one to represent her.  The list goes on and on, much like my pity party.  Check out:

I don't know whether to be encouraged or discouraged by these tidbits of information.

Just in case, I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

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