You learn as you go.
Last March I sent out a query for Marvin. Last March I might have sent out several queries for Marvin. Gosh, I've lost track of their number over the years. Is there an agent anywhere whom I haven't contacted? I can't imagine there isn't. But I received a reply a few days ago to this one particular query to an agent, a reply that made me smile a bit. No, she didn't want to read the entire manuscript, but she did say there were some lovely passages in the writing. Good luck, too.
The good luck part I glossed over. Her small, personal comment about portions of it being lovely I read several times.
Many times, after having received, "Thanks, but not for us..." I said to myself, "You're no good. This is proof." The next day I would find myself saying, "This is brilliant writing. Read again what you wrote in Chapter..." The next query reply flies in a few weeks later and I find myself saying, "You're no good..." What I never found myself saying was, "Give up." If the world doesn't believe in Marvin, I do.
I had an agent intern write me a personal note...I don't know, six? eight months ago? She nicely said, "Your story begins here. I suggest you cut the opening paragraphs. Get right to scene." I think she was a graduate of Columbia. Maybe Harvard.
I rewrote that first chapter (number six thousand rewrite) as per her suggestion. The next agent thought I should open with description. But that other one just said...
Both were very nice to have even commented on a personal level. I know they receive thousands of queries each day.
Publishing and agency are businesses, not art. Mixed in there, I'm positive, is what hits an agent in the gut. THIS is special. I'm remembering, though, reading The Cabin (I changed that last word in the title, not wanting to offend the author). Truly one of the worst books I've ever read that hit the N.Y. Times Bestseller List. And stayed there for umpteen weeks.
This is a business.
I've written my last query letter. Admittedly I was never any good at them anyway:) And really, I'm not angry or upset about all those rejections I received that are plastered on the wall behind my computer! I really understand the dilemma agents and houses find themselves facing every day. They have to eat, too. I'm not revising Marvin, though, ever again. He went over that hill in the Epilogue, and he didn't look back. I've gone over that hill, too, and I'm not looking back. It's time to take Terence and Teresa through Purgatory...and then up to Heaven. I have faith that in time, through my own efforts and with the help of my friends, Marvin will see his day. It's time to create a world for Terence and his love, Teresa, now. Quite a few people have expressed an interest in their journey already. That makes me say, "You ARE good. Here's your proof."