Regret just wastes time and energy best spent on learning. I’ve made more than a few mistakes, but the best thing I’ve done so far is spend time seeking out information. That whole try try again thing in and of itself is a very rich learning experience. Most important lesson learned as of yet: I should have waited a full month before querying. I should have employed all that experience gained through years of writing poetry and fiction. Practice practice practice, edit, edit, edit.
My first six query letters were an ever-loving mess. And the synopsis … oy. I queried six agents within a week of finishing final edits on my novel. Four of those six agents have passed and every pass taught me something new. Patience may be a virtue but for me it’s a hot iron of hard learning. A long road full of pot holes and random obstacles that leave me limping and tired until finally the obvious conclusion lights up my brain. And other long-winded metaphors may apply.
Here’s the thing, though. I can’t regret any of it. Maybe apologize to those first six agents for wasting their time with messy emails, but that would take another email and who really wants that? The new query is better. The new synopsis still the bane of my existence. And I’m writing a new story in between the edits and the try try again. Lunch breaks are filled with searching MSWL, writing podcasts, Poets & Writers Magazine, and ten other websites I can’t name off hand …
I use these sources to make lists of agents seeking speculative, horror, sci-fi, thriller, strong narrative, and so on. Then I research the agent more closely, make sure I list their preferences for the querying process, and take notes on past books, editorial experience, and so on. I have filled a notebook. Yesterday I made out a list with fifteen more agents to research beyond the initial preferences listed on the MSWL page.
My preferences for this first round of queries (a total of sixteen) has been agents who are building their list. Did you catch that? I’ve only managed sixteen queries. Some prefer just a brief letter and 10 pages, some an electronic query form that asks for enough details to give me a sweaty headache, and a few request a query, synopsis, and the first three chapters. Some request a bio, some don’t care for it. Some want a mention of target audience, some don’t. I’ve decided to make a color-coordinated chart.
Through all this the naysayer in the back of my head wonders in an annoying voice if I’ll ever take on a task in the correct order and with a bit more style than dump truck with a leaky brake line. I told him to sit down and shut up.