Dear Agent, Please, let me explain…

Dear Agent,

This has been bothering me for almost a year. And I always wished I could explain this to you, but I knew better than to send an email back justifying my writing.

You see, two years ago, I queried your agency on a whim after a conference. So, I was totally surprised and amazed when I received a super positive rejection. And I deserved the big R. I can see that. Now. But since you invited me to send something else, I did. Too early. And you rejected that story too. But again, you invited me to submit more. And you were nice. For the first time, I felt validated in all my time and effort. And I thank you for that.

I cringe now. It was totally too early to query you again a few months later. Even though, honestly, this third manuscript was the first time I queried more than two agents. The manuscript was ready. You see, previously, I knew in my gut the others weren’t ready. But something you have to understand about writers is that sometimes we just can’t help it. We have to query. Especially when we don’t have a lot of querying experience.

The third time was not the charm. I sent you a manuscript with a completely different tone and style, and it threw you off. I understand. I get it. But I’m not going to apologize for that. I enjoy writing humorous with heart, and I enjoy writing darker stories. 

But if it weren’t for my experience with you and the burned bridge, I wouldn’t have learned some valuable lessons.

  • A positive rejection is nice but it’s still a rejection.
  • I  better understand the meaning of story structure and how important it is to complete macro revisions, not just rewrite or polish.
  • I no longer query too early. Even though the trigger finger gets itchy, I wrap it in duct tape.
  •  When I write more serious or dark, I try to infuse a humorous side too, so I won’t completely freak agents out I’m querying for a second time.
  • I will always take my time querying between manuscripts. Make sure I’m growing in craft and bringing something new to the table.

I guess that’s about it. So, to wrap it up, I’m sorry I queried you like three times within twelve months.

Thank you for your time.




13 Responses to Dear Agent, Please, let me explain…

  1. Heather Kelly July 23, 2010 at 11:29 am #

    This is an interesting post for me right now, as I think about my next project, which is quite different in tone than the things I’ve been writing. I’m wondering about having an eclectic bunch of manuscripts–I imagine that it would be stronger to have a number of similarly toned pieces. But the story that wants to be written is…different. I’ve heard agents say both–that it’s good to write well across genres, and that it’s good to stick to one for a number of books. I’m not sure I’m at the stage to worry about this now. I’m just going to write the next book.

  2. kris July 23, 2010 at 11:30 am #

    LOL! Hope you have a good day, Laura.

  3. Stina Lindenblatt July 23, 2010 at 12:37 pm #

    Oh, I can so relate. 😀

    Great post, Laura!

  4. anne gallagher July 23, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    I think if I were an agent and you queried me 3xs in 12 months, I wouldn’t forget you —
    1) you queried 3xs in a year
    2) you finished 3 books in a year
    3) you had the chutzpah to query

    Perhaps you could rework Book One and requery that? No?

    • Laura July 23, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

      Heather – I think after a book is published the next couple should be similar. But beforehand, as prepublished, unagented? No. But it is something to think about before starting a project.

      Thanks, Kris. You too.

      Stina – I’m sure others made query mistakes. It’s part of the learning process. 🙂

      Anne – I didn’t finish three in one year. One I had, one I was revising, and the last one was a complete rewrite. She’d probably remember if I queried her again, which I won’t for a very looooong time. 🙂

  5. patti July 23, 2010 at 1:10 pm #

    Sigh. Finding the right agent to dance with is sooo hard.

    I feel your pain and can only pray for you and with you that you connect with the right person.


  6. Laura Marcella July 23, 2010 at 2:25 pm #

    “But something you have to understand about writers is that sometimes we just can’t help it. We have to query. Especially when we don’t have a lot of querying experience.”

    That made me laugh because it’s so so true!!! Good for you for putting yourself out there and querying, however premature it was. Gaining experience is a good thing, even when it’s rejections!

    • Laura July 23, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

      Thanks Patti

      Laura – Thankfully that happened over a year ago. But I did learn a lot from making a mistake. 🙂

  7. Karen Strong July 23, 2010 at 4:18 pm #


    Great post! Sometimes we just gotta learn the hard way.

    The good news is that even if you don’t get a chance to query this agent again, you’ve grown so much as a writer and you’ll be able to find an agent who will love your work.

    Have a great weekend.

  8. Lydia K July 24, 2010 at 2:07 am #

    Hmm. Can you pass that duct tape? I need it. My query-trigger-finger is also overactive.
    Great post though. I’ve learned a lot of the same things you have!
    Have a great weekend! 🙂

  9. Elaine July 24, 2010 at 11:49 pm #

    This is so true.

    I am amazed, when I got to the end of my first draft, I thought that the very next thing I should do was send it out to an agent.

    Ah! Bless!

  10. Dawn Simon July 25, 2010 at 11:43 pm #

    We learn so much through every step in the process, don’t we? And while I’m not saying rejections are fun, there really are good ones!

    Best of luck next time you start querying! 🙂

  11. Sherrie Petersen July 26, 2010 at 8:35 pm #

    Love this post! Sadly, relate to this post!

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