CWB Writing

The Works of Christopher Buecheler

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Hello There!

What an interesting couple of months it's been. I don't have great news, but I do have good news, which is … well, not bad! Let's get to it.

The Unending Agent Search

Let's talk about the agent hunt. For those new to this newsletter or who've forgotten how this goes, it works like this: I send out "queries" which are single page descriptions of the new book, usually along with some information about yourself. Most (but not all) agents also ask you to send a small sample of the book, ranging from the first five pages to the first three chapters. MOST queries end up in rejections (or "closed, no response" because some agents only respond when they want more). I follow a lot of agents on Twitter and many of them get over 1,000 queries in a given month. Ambitious agents might take on six or seven authors in a given year. The odds are always against the author.

If the agent is interested, they will generally ask for a "partial" (more of the book but not the whole thing) or a "full" (the full manuscript). An agent who asked for a partial will either reject or, if interested, upgrade to a full. Once an agent has read the full, one of three things will happen: they will either pass on representing the work, they will ask for revisions, or they will offer representation. The latter is the goal, though it only represents one more step on a very long journey.

SO … with all that in mind, let's talk numbers. I have sent out a whopping seventy queries for my latest book, Piety the Knife, a dark fantasy novel. Of those queries, so far thirty-six have resulted in rejections with no page requests, and two in "closed, no response." That cuts us down to thirty-two. Of which, 26 are still outstanding. That means six agents have so far requested at least a partial manuscript (in fact, I got five full requests and one partial).

None of those six have offered representation. One rejected on the partial. Three others rejected on the full. One is still outstanding but is probably a reject at this point. The final agent has requested revisions, but does believe that if I can get the story to where she thinks it needs to be to sell it, she would like to represent it.

Believe it or not, this is a very good result. It's actually a spectacular result. Six requests for pages is the most I've ever gotten on any book I've ever queried, including Elixir, the novel that landed me my first agent. All of the agents who rejected after requesting the full sent personalized feedback saying they thought I was a talented writer and to make sure I query them with my next book if I'm still seeking representation. That's a really good sign.

But the "revise and resubmit" (R&R) is the best sign of the bunch. This gives me an actual target. "If you can do what's needed, you will likely get an agent." I spent over two hours on Zoom with the agent in question, and I'm extremely confident that a) she's well read in the genres I write, b) she's very passionate about the genres I write, and c) she would be an excellent champion for the book.

Now: the hard part. Rewrites. I've spent the past couple of weeks working on a plan to get the book into shape, taking into account her feedback, her assistant's feedback, my wife's thoughts, and my own gut instincts. I'm just about ready to begin chopping, adding, and changing. I don't expect the process to be lengthy, but I do expect it to be difficult. Writing is hard work. But this is as close as I've been in a while to finding representation for my books, and the goal remains the same: get an agent, get a book sold to publishers, get that book on the shelves. I've wanted it since I was eleven years old. Gonna keep pursuing it till it happens, or I'm dead.

That's all I've got this month. See you in July, hopefully with good news!


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