I thought writing my book THE PLAYLIST was tough, but that was nothing compared to navigating the publishing world. It has been daunting to say the least.
I wish I could bottle the sense of accomplishment I felt when I finished my book because I'd need it to get me through the many rejections that would follow. Here's a peek at the mistakes and missteps I've made along the way:
With my book near perfection, it was time to contact literary agencies, all located in the hub of the literary world, New York City. First I had to write a query letter that would capture my 311 page book in 1 page! That was an undertaking in itself. If an agent liked my query, they would "request material" which are the two words every writer dreams of seeing. Most agents receive roughly 20 or more query letters a day, which could easily be upwards of 150 a week. On average, a literary agent requests material from 1 author a week, with most queries going directly to the "slush pile". How could I make my query letter stand out?
It took months of researching and drafting, with help from friends and family, before my query letter was done. Then I began sending my query letter to literary agents. Some agents wanted my query, while others wanted a combination of my query and first 5 pages, first 10 pages, first chapter, first 3 chapters, entire synopsis and/or author's biography. It was dizzying!
I had researched the top 50 literary agencies and combed through the biographies of all the agents listed on their websites. I was looking for an agent who would be a good fit for my book. Was the agent looking for books in my genre, did they currently represent books like mine, did they have experience, etc.? In the end it all came down to a hunch. Simply put, I followed my gut.
I learned that a debut author could query upwards of 100 agents without ever getting a request for materials, so I was prepared for rejection. More than likely, I would never receive a rejection at all. Most agents are so busy that if you don't hear from them within 8 weeks, consider that they have passed on your book.
On August 9th I sent my first query letter to my "dream" agent. I was fully prepared to watch 8 weeks tick by with no response at all, but just 5 days later, I got the email every writer dreams of: "Please send along your completed manuscript." It was at that moment that I realized my first mistake!