As with every other Aspiring Author on the planet, querying literary agents is the part of the game that I haven’t figured out yet.
Twenty-five agents later, with three bites that ultimately ended in “no,” I still have a disk full of letter versions (does the agent seem to like short and sweet or long and detailed?), a short synopsis (for the short and sweet agent), a long synopsis (for the long and detailed agent), and a descriptive paragraph to memorize in case I get a phone call, an email request, or a letter in the mail asking me for the gist of my book in five sentences or less.
I have sat with my book editor and gone over and over my letters, looking for the misstep, the bad choice of word, or the breezy sentence that sounds like pure arrogance. I have pored over the Writer’s Market and the many websites with agent listings looking for the secret, the Ace of Spades in the magician’s hat.
And still my book “Skin” sits in the drawer, tidy and waiting for luck to descend.
And still my editor says, “We’ll talk again when you’ve queried one hundred agents.” And I look at that Writer’s Market, how thick it is. . .
Or course, I have entered the querying game with the requisite roll-up-your-sleeves enthusiasm of the Aspiring Author because we know that this is our work. This is our brick-laying and our foundation-building. We also know that we go through the motions to feel as if we’re authors, but that the moment when we truly become a published author is often attributed to some random occurrence or chance encounter — just like every other serendipitous moment in life.
So while the work is necessary, the magic is in charge.
And I’ve got seventy-five more agents to query, kids, before I can rest.