Red-Letter Day

According to Wikipedia, a red-letter day is any day of significance and my goodness did I have one!

Last week I sent out my normal batch of query letters via email.  This is  part of my marketing plan, which entails sending out queries for my manuscript, Moonlight and Oranges, every two weeks or so.

That same day, to my unbelieving eyes, two positive responses came back from two agents I had queried less than an hour before.

In in effort to record my ecstatic thoughts for this event, I set aside my writing project of the moment for that day and journaled my emotions, thoughts and reactions.  Without further ado, I am reproducing them here:

July 12, 2011

Yesterday I performed the marketing grind. I prepped the query letters for the agents who only fifty percent of the time deign to tell me that I’m not a fit for their client list, or even better, they personally tell me how one of my protagonists really “didn’t grip” them. (That’s code word for “your love interest character sucks”).   The other half of the time they ignore me completely.

So far, it’s about ninety agents queried and eight months of steadily sending out query letters every two weeks with very little to show for it.

And there comes a time when I have to wonder—is it something wrong with my letter?  My sample chapter?  My lack of enough prior publishing credits?

Then, on an ordinary overcast July day (only in Seattle is this ordinary), I press “send” on my query emails that are waiting from Monday to be sent on a Tuesday so as to keep from landing in the huge Monday morning email dog pile.

Fifty-two minutes later (count them), an agent replies with a personalized email telling me she has a soft spot for retellings and would I please send her my manuscript on an exclusive basis for one month?  This is a red-letter day.  I’m telling my parents the news and I’m posting it on facebook, grinning as my friends punch the “like” button, then I’m checking the address of the agency and imagining traveling to New York City to meet her and go out for lunch and talk business and I’m perfectly aware that I’m jumping ahead of things.

She hasn’t even said that she’d like to represent me, but it’s okay to dream, right?  Isn’t dreaming a form of play and didn’t I just see the TED video about how playing is essential for health, intelligence, and overall wellness?

Well, if this isn’t playing, it’s at least having fun, and smiling a lot. I’m trying hard to “go back to work” and think about my current writing projects when, lo and behold, I get a second email from a second agent asking not for a partial look but a  FULL look at my manuscript. Holy Toledo.

It’s like the heavens have just opened and I’m getting the wonderful downpour. I’m so shocked by this second email that my first reaction is to doubt it.

Is his real?  Are these agents serious?  Is Ryan Boudinot’s advice to write as little as possible about my book in the query letter actually paying off in a big way?  Funny how a small miracle results in my shaking of faith, rather than reinforcing it.

So I get in the car to drive to the café to write, all the while singing at the top of my lungs, thanking God for this awesome favor, and feeling just a little bit like a celebrity for the day.  My brave thought: So what if both these agents read it and later decide to pass?  It might or might not happen and there’s nothing that says I can’t dance today for my small victory.

I shared a snippet of this news already on facebook and twitter, but this gives a more complete picture.  Let this be an encouragement to all of you that the query letter process, though daunting and exhausting, needn’t be fruitless and discouraging.

P.S. Seattle writers, did you know that Hugo House writers in residence give free advice to any writers who email them to set up an appointment?  It’s a fantastic resource.

Do you have a question about query letter writing?  Are you in the process of querying and still waiting to hear anything positive?  Are you overwhelmed by the idea of even thinking about query letters?  Tell me where you’re at in the process and maybe we can swap helpful information.


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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Great article! I love it when I see something stating a common, human truth of how to treat each other well and not feel like it’s a pushing contest to see who can climb to the top of the pile. Thank you for sharing this and for the encouraging words.

  2. Love your enthusiasm! The trick is never to allow the highs to be too high – the lows too low. Finding an agent and more importantly a publisher is normally a marathon – not a sprint. ( Hopefully you’ll be the exception ) Rndeavor to persevere my dear.

    1. Sandy,
      Thank you so much. I’d love to be the exception but I’m willing to be realistic. Thank you for the encouragement to persevere. I’ll need it, whether in this part of the climb or the next.

    1. You will definitely have one. 🙂

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