I didn't just get my butt in gear--today, I was in hyperdrive. I finished my edits, did some research, and chose five awesome agents to query.
These agents are some of the very best, the kind that any writer would LOVE to be represented by.
So what's to stop me from landing one? Well, first off, they have to love the work. I read where one of them said she only takes on roughly 1% of the authors who send her unsolicited queries. In addition to the 99% rejection rate, there's always the possibility that a book similar to mine has already been taken on, or that I, despite all my research, flubbed part of the submission requirements, or...well, any number of things. There are many reasons why agents reject authors, and, as I said before, not all of them have to do with the quality of the writing.
And yet I firmly believe that if my manuscript is good enough, it will land an agent. I have complete confidence in the system.
It's not optimism that keeps me going...it's knowledge of the publishing industry. The thing is, there are hundreds of thousands of would-be writers out there, banging away like those fabled infinite number of monkeys at their infinite number of keyboards. There's simply no way that the handful of major publishing houses out there could read every one of those manuscripts...they'd simply drown under an infinite number of pages. They have to have filters. And they do. They have agents.
Agents are people who know good writing and are knowledgeable in the publishing business. They read a short synopsis of your work--your query letter--and determine whether or not there's a market for it. If it's good, and there's a market, and you show an ability to follow basic, easy-to-read instructions, you'll get an agent damn near 100% of the time, if you query long enough. If not, the chances of you getting an agent fall to just about zero.
It sounds harsh, I know. But I'm speaking as someone who's written several novels and doesn't yet have an agent. I did have one kindly tell me, on my last attempt, that the writing was good; it really drew him in, and he read much further into my manuscript than he'd intended. The problem was the market. As pertains to that particular book, it didn't exist.
If you want to see why agents reject so many queries, check this out:
And here's an agent's response to some particularly terrible lines:
(Those are hilarious!)
And now, having linked to blogs much cooler than mine, I'll go back into hiding...