Early attempts

I first started shopping Finnegans Festive around in April. I sent it to ten agents that said they represented mystery novels. I received eight rejections and two silent treatments long after the stated response period had passed. I’ve told myself that I should try at least fifty agents before I start to feel worried and at least a hundred before I give up (with that novel).

I think I went about it wrong. I tried selling the subgenre rather than the story. I made a case for an under-served market of mysteries without murders. And while I think this exists and is mostly untapped yet growing, I don’t think most agents are in the frame of mind for genre busting. I think they are generally interested in novels with a proven market, and I can understand that.

So I pulled back and worked on my approach, rewriting my basic query letter (or email anymore) to stress the characters and the mystery. I also included a list of the other novels I have conceived for the series. I think it is important to an agent to see that a prospective client can supply material for the long haul. So far, I’ve only tried my new pitch on one agent.

But I may have a bite.

The submission guideline for this agency called for no more than a brief email. No synopsis. No chapter points. No sample chapters. I had nothing to lose, so I sent an email. The agent wrote back the very same day asking for the word count of the entire novel.

I have to be careful, of course, that I don’t read too much into this. (The word count is 74,400.) She may simply be skeptical that the bare sketch of the story I could fit in the email could stretch to novel length. Or something else more interesting could cross her desk tomorrow. Or a thousand other things could affect the matter.

Yet it is the first response I have received that wasn’t politely negative. So I am hopeful. I’ll keep you posted as this develops.

Update: My email response to the agent, giving her the novel’s word count, came back as undeliverable. I had used the response button in my email system, so I couldn’t have entered her address wrong. I tried sending it again later that evening. So far I haven’t received an undeliverable response. I hope it was just a bug in her email system, and I really hope this doesn’t cause her to turn to other potential clients because I didn’t appear to respond quickly enough.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Finnegans, Humble efforts

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