On some days, I catch my second wind and start sprinting uphill.
On most days, I slip on loose gravel and begin to lose my footing. The Kingdom of Bold feels so far away, and I wish I could make a U-turn right back home, curl up into a ball, and forget about this whole journey.
But I already started. I sent out 22 letters to literary agents. I can’t “unsend” them. Some days, I look at my writing and think it’s not too shabby. Most days, I look at it and think, “WHAT WAS I THINKING SENDING OUT THIS *&^%^&*@!!!”
It’s especially intimidating when I have no prior resume in the publishing world or any degree in English from whatever school for that matter. I was a freaking BIO major. BIO!!! Who then went on to get two Master’s degrees in FOOD. The only thing I ever published was a paper on the effects of germination on vitamin and mineral content in gluten-free grains.
I’ve heard that it’s very cliché for new authors to blog about all their rejections and various failures as they attempt to be published. Even so, I have friends who want to hear about the process, so here I am, living out that cliché. Oh well.
I will record my failures and triumphs in points gained or lost.
POINT TALLY (Points assigned at random, according to how I feel)
- I’ll start by telling you that I’ve read articles on every kind of mistake amateurs make when sending query letters. I swear I tried not to make those mistakes. So of course, I pretty much committed every sin in the rule book.
- Make sure there are no typos. Hah. I swear I read those suckers forty times before clicking send, yet somehow, I still caught two typos after the fact. Points Lost: 200
- Make sure you follow submission guidelines, which vary according to the agent’s preferences. For the most part, I think I did well on that, but I still botched up one. Most agents prefer no attachments, with letters and beginning chapters pasted into the body of the email. However, there was one who actually did prefer an attachment. Rare, but I suppose to each her own. I pasted everything into the email, then received a rejection because of it. Actually, it was a half rejection, as she let me re-submit the correct way. Points Lost: 100
- I sent 22 letters in total. Points Gained: 22×10=220
- I received a request for a partial submission from my first choice agent. She said she liked what she saw so far. It’s one step farther than I thought I’d get. Points Gained=50
- I also received a request for a full manuscript submission. She said it’ll take at least 6-8 weeks for her to get to my manuscript, but hope isn’t lost yet. Points Gained=75
- I got my first rejection after the two partial submission requests. The blow was softened as the agent complimented my query, but she just didn’t think it was the best fit for her. No Points Gained or Lost.
As for the other 19, still silence. I patiently continue to wait and hope and pray. I do believe that God will provide me with the right agent, so if one rejects me, she was simply not the right one. And if I get all rejections, I’ll just have to continue revising and then try again.
If you’re interested, here is my basic query letter, though I made adjustments and personal touches, depending on the agent I was writing. If you’re writing query letters too, or if you have in the past, or even if you have no idea what this is about, feel free to comment on how I can improve before I send out the next batch of letters.
Dear “Specific Agent’s Name,”
Please consider representing my 84,000-word teen fantasy novel, Voice of a Trinket. When sixteen-year-old Rilla Marseas is chosen to participate in the emperor’s concubine selection competition, she is determined not to become the decrepit old man’s two hundred and sixty-seventh bride, although she wouldn’t mind becoming the only wife of his handsome son, Prince Carrick.
However, her attempt to sabotage her audition doesn’t go as planned when Emperor Terran learns that her voice is the key to eternal life. Forced to become Terran’s caged pet trinket, Rilla is not allowed to speak to anyone, unless she is commanded by the courtiers to heal their illnesses. But what Terran does not know is that Rilla’s talent has a dual nature.
After committing an unforeseeable act, Rilla is able to escape with the help of the charming slave boy, Aiden. The only way to regain her freedom is by putting an end to Terran’s oppressive regime. But as she fights to find her way back to Prince Carrick, will she be able to sacrifice love for freedom?
As an Asian-American, I have always loved wuxia (martial arts) stories and Japanese manga, and I love mixing cultures in the stories I write. Voice of a Trinket is based on the lifestyle of Chinese emperors and their concubines in the Forbidden City. I’ve always found it tragic that young teenage girls were forcibly taken from their families to become the emperor’s brides, and then kept in isolation for the remainder of their lives. This was my inspiration for Voice of a Trinket, which can be a standalone novel or the beginning of a series.
If you are interested, I’d love to send my completed manuscript to you. Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you.
My Contact info