(The Rules for Query Road)
Some months have passed since I’ve shared information about my search for an agent to represent my memoir, Getting Lost to Find Home. With embarrassment as well as humility, I must report I have contacted over 100 representatives and have been ignored or gently told my book is unlikely to sell well enough to warrant attention. My travels abroad and what I learned is of interest to no one. In today’s market, I doubt John Steinbeck would have published his delightful, Travels with Charley, a journal about his drive across America with his eponymous dog if he hadn’t written The Grapes of Wrath first. The publishing world belongs to the famous, infamous, or tormented.
Even so, I believe everyone has at least one story to tell. That’s why I’m flaunting my failure. Others might benefit from knowing the rigors of walking Query Road. Here are a few tips for beginners.
Rules for Query Road
To write well is taken as a given. Skill alone won’t get anyone through an agent’s door. The Subject matters more than craft. A book about 52 shades of grey might work, being derivative and additive.
Most agents won’t bother to reply to a query unless they are interested. Don’t wait for a reply. Continue to circulate the manuscript, even if someone asks to see 10 to 50 pages, That’s common these days.
The rule changes if an agent asks to read the full manuscript, which in my case has happened twice. At that point, stop submitting elsewhere. A commitment to read the full submission is the agent’s understanding that he or she has the first right to make an offer. After six weeks, if there’s been no reply, the author is free to enquire if the manuscript is still under consideration.
These are the elementary rules for Query road, of course. I’m opening the door to further questions. Leave one here if you have one and I’ll reply. Be advised, I do not read or edit manuscripts.