Like me, like me not, likes me, likes me not...
Ever play that game while pulling petals off of a flower? Sometimes that is what if feels like when sending query letters to literary agents. We have to keep up hope with every sent query. Yet, we know all of them are going to be ignored or returned with a "likes me not" note. There is no roller-coaster to equal the up and down emotional ride we subject ourselves too. Yet, we know that we have to continue sending, sending, and sending, because somewhere there is an agent who will read it and exclaim, "likes me!"
The literary agents we seek have requirements we must meet or they won't bother with our submission. So we struggle to meet them, one by one, group by group. As a writer we should be spending our time writing a new story or polishing our words to make the book better. Instead we are seeking representation and seeking, seeking, seeking.
I do not exoricate all agents. Oh no, not at all. For there are great agents in the folds. There are bad agents mixed in, and there are a lot of average agents. The same holds true for all social strata, all professions, all people. We desperately want to slalom our way, carving into the path of the best agent for our book. Still, although we jump the yawning gaps, hurl through hoops, and hone our words, there are inevitable road blocks we can not help but to slam against.
Let me tell you about one blocking wall I ran into today. I was given the name and email address of a potential literary agent dealing exclusively in the genre I write. I could not find an address nor a webpage so I emailed a note asking permission to send a query. As I only had the email address I wanted to find out where to send a query letter.
Ms. Agent responded with a short email that said I could send my query to her at this email address. She requested I put "Query" into the subject line. She also indicated that a webpage was being constructed.
Perfect! I had permission to send a query. And, so I did. Before clicking on the send button I reread my effort. I reread the submittal again. I reread both the query letter and the submittal text again, and again. Then I reread it one more time.
Perfect! It seemed to be perfect. It just had to be perfect. So with the click of a mouse I was again soaring skyward with projected hopes of an agent awaiting my query. With anticipation I had become so used to I tossed and turned with fractured dreams during the night. When morning came I had finally calmed down knowing that I would probably be waiting for weeks and weeks. Knowing that in those weeks and weeks I could expect another rejection or no answer at all.
Expectations quelled, I powered up the laptop and steeled myself to confront the day's agenda. BLINK! blink, blink, blink. The email notifier was blinking at me. I looked and there in the special folder was a response from Ms. Agent.
Ever have an instant adrenaline surge? Excitement crash over you? Ever feel propelled by a success you had schooled yourself to never hope for? There it was. Blood pressure soared, muscles quivered, fingers itched to type and tears glistened. Such a fast reply could only mean one thing...
NOT! It didn't mean anything good at all. Instead it was an email from Ms. Agent that said, "