I recently received a rejection in response to a query for my novel, Collateral Damage. I’ve been collecting them for short stories for a while, but this one is my first for the novel. It’s oddly satisfying.
At this stage, I’ve only begun the journey, so it feels a bit like the first awkward, necessary step. I’ve got several other queries out and I’ve decided to wait and see what kind of responses I get before I open the floodgates. If they are all suspiciously form letter-esque, I’ll rewrite the query letter. If they indicate that the agent at least read a bit before passing on it, I’ll possibly re-visit the first chapter and see if any tweaks are necessary.
I’ve got a pretty tough sell. Apparently. Super hero fiction isn’t “in”, despite the crazy explosion of it at the theaters. Oh, and as mentioned previously, my audience doesn’t exist.
Or so some say.
Here’s the real trick, and something I haven’t started seriously considering yet: I’m not looking for an agent, an agent is looking for me. So, I won’t get very far with the shotgun approach where you send out a letter to every agent in the publishing world and pray for the best. Instead, I need to be heat seeking. Laser guided. Atomic perfection.
I need to actually work at this. Blind subs have been sort of my bread and butter with short stories. Sure, I always read guidelines and try to get a feel for what an editor is looking for, but I hardly have the infinite resources (or time) it would take to subscribe to every publication I’ve sent stories. I have sought out interviews with those editors on occasion, but usually I write to the theme / topic and pray for the best. With the novel though, it’s going to have to be different.
For one, finding the right agent means finding an agent that has the same type of stories under his/her representation. Sounds simple, perhaps. Of course, I’ve had a hell of a time coming up with comps so it will be a bit trickier than normal.
I’ve got a sci-fi, superhero, young adult antagonist on a pretty interesting and not at all times young adult adventure. It’s written for an older crowd in many ways but accessible to that crazy -popular YA segment. The backstory touches on terrorism, torture, and remote warfare – legacies of a post 911 America. It needs an editor/agent who enjoys traditional sci-fi with a bit of social commentary subtley woven into its threads and one that can enjoy a book that goes off the traditional rails a wee bit to get the point across.
To my future agent – keep an eye on your inbox. I’ll find you. But not in a creepy Liam Neeson Taken sort of way. Though I do happen to have a very particular skill set. Skills that are a product of an overactive imagination. Skills that make me a godsend for people like you, whoever you are.