Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Next Big Step

My Van Gogh novel has entered a vital new stage in its progress. Yesterday I sent off my first query letter to an agent, a person with whom I've had various email conversations over the years in regards to different writing projects of mine. His agency is the natural one for me to approach first. And if his agency requests to see the entire manuscript, it will be the only agency looking at Yellow for a while. (Actually, that agency is quite conscientious about not holding manuscripts too long.) Most agents, if they have asked to see your entire book, want an exclusive look, which I understand. But if you're sending out anything short of that--a query letter or email, a synopsis, the first ten pages, a few chapters--authors should, and do, feel free to contact as many agents as they like.

In any case, this new development means something significant for my novel and for this blog. Instead of working at the privacy of my desk every morning trying to make the book just a little bit better, I've officially--at least for now--declared myself done and am essentially releasing Yellow to the world. The work is no longer about editing and revising but about mailing, emailing, hoping, waiting, photocopying, developing requested synopses, mailing again, waiting, mailing more, waiting, getting depressed, getting hopeful, mailing, waiting, emailing, photocopying, waiting, developing a longer (or shorter) synopsis, mailing, emailing, waiting, photocopying, mailing, waiting. You get the idea. Makes me think of that Tom Petty line: "The waiting is the hardest part." Well, maybe. But it's also the most hopeful part. Finding an agent--hopefully the right agent--for your book can be a short process or a long one. Sometimes, it can be an interminable process. At this point, as I start out on my efforts on behalf of Yellow, I really have no idea how long it will take.

But I do know that moving into the agent hunt phase means there will be fewer day to day thoughts and insights that I'll be driven to share on this blog. (Funny how this should happen so soon after celebrating my 100th post.) After all, how many times can I say to the world "I sent out a query letter today!" without sounding uselessly boring? Certainly if any issue regarding historical fiction or how I put together my own book is on my mind, or if I care to comment about a historical novel I've read, or I have some great news about Yellow, I will be back in this space sharing my thoughts. But I figure my posts will drop to maybe one a week, and some weeks not even that. I'm in a different phase now. Let's hope it's a good one. Thanks to anyone and everyone who has kept up so far. I'll let you know how things turn out.


  1. Good luck! I gotta say, though, that exclusive thing is bull. When I was shopping Brains, I had a lot of requests for fulls and partials and no one asked for an exclusive read--though a few made me sign some things. In fact, the agent I finally signed with encouraged me to keep on submitting while at the same time working with me on the MS--actually editing and revising without a contract. While that was a real nail-biter, she thinks exclusives are for the birds.

    Anyhow, hope it all works out!

  2. Thanks, Robin. Fascinating. She was editing for you and encouraging you to submit elsewhere at the same time. Obviously, she really cared about your book--getting it out there. Sounds like a great agent. I'd never give an agent an exclusive look if I was only sending a partial and I wouldn't not send a partial to an agent just because another agent had the full thing. But from what you say I guess I shouldn't worry about sending the full thing out to multiples as well. That's a problem I'm happy to have if it comes to it.