The Request

First off, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the query process, I’m going to line out what I do. This is, of course, after the manuscript is finished and polished, query letter is honed, synopsis and cover letter are done.

I got the agents for DANCING HORSES without it being done, but that isn’t the way to do it.

1. Gather list of top twenty-five agents.

2. Do a little more research on them and shuffle the list around if need be.

3. Set up ledger.

4. Send out query with first few pages and wait.

5. As one is returned, make notes of how long it took, reactions, requests, suggestions and further action required.

6. Either send out requested material or send out new query.

7. This process goes on for weeks, months or years.

(Steps including gnashing teeth, becoming an alcoholic and maniacal have been omitted.)

8. Sign with dream agent.

Now, as you all may have heard, I went to Surrey to the SIWC. I signed up for two master classes. Jack Whyte’s was submission only and he limited the class to ten or fewer. Janet Reid’s included sending in a query, but the class size wasn’t limited.

So, as you all know I got accepted into Jack’s class. Several of my friends were
going to Janet’s class, but I thought it would really be rude of me not to go to Jack’s after making the cut. I figured Janet wouldn’t even miss me, whereas a tenth of the class missing might be noticeable.

Yeah, well so much for being logical.

Janet forgave me and invited me to send pages. Rachel Vater invited me to send pages. Paul Stevens invited me to send fifty pages, a cover letter and synopsis. He didn’t care about a query letter. I knew Mr. Stevens was genuinely interested, but I have a hunch he was drawn to the strong female lead and the blending of ancient Celtic and Sarmatian cultures. I figured Rachel and Janet were just being nice.

In all the goofing around, I never asked Janet or Rachel how many pages they wanted. I assumed I would send twenty-five or so, they would politely decline and we would go back to being friends.

However, since PALADIN is getting fairly close, I saw an opening on Janet Reid’s blog about how many pages she wants for a partial. The correct answer is 100 and she wants it in TNR, not courier.

I asked how many pages she wanted from someone she met at a conference. I assumed ten or twenty-five. She answered thus:

Holy Cow! She really is interested.

Yeah, you could have knocked me over with a feather.

Miss Janet asked for the full manuscript with certain conditions. It needs to be smaller or her assistant will edit it for me. I realize Miss Janet adores her assistant and this is what happened to the last assistant who edited my work via the every eighth-page method. So, I figured I better do some more pruning.


  1. Well damn, girl. Color me giddy.

    There’s a certain strain of bitterness afflicting some writers(-to-be). The litany goes, “It’s all about connections. It’s not what you write or how well you write it, it’s who you know.”

    I don’t think I’ve ever been sick that way. When it’s been tempting, I remind myself that good things happen far and away more often to good people (and writers) than to bad.

    Thanks so much for reaffirming that… and of course, heartfelt congratulations, too!

    Get out the pruning shears but remember, too, what you learned about yourself in recent weeks: wield ’em like a pair of manicure scissors, not like you’ve got a machete in each hand and a manic, avaricious gleam in your eyes.

  2. Tara,

    You all are so sweet. es, I remember the conversations at Surrey.

    “They’re just being nice.”

    “Agents aren’t nice. They don’t ask for pages if they aren’t interested.”



  3. John,

    I have to confess, going to Surrey was more of a declaration of independence than a hope to find a rep. I figured I would learn a bit to improve my work and then come home and put it to use. Possibly next year I might get up the guts to talk about my work.

    If I were really fortunate, I wouldn’t stick my foot in my mouth too badly.

    As for the pruning, you’re right. I cut out some scenes that added a lot to an arc, but I figured it would survive without it. Now, I realize that particular part is fairly flat. It works, but it’s flat to me.

    If I get enough flat spots, the whole work will suffer.

    I just have to trust. Plus, I think my beta readers will point out other ways to cut it.

    Thanks so much for the good wishes.

    As for the who you know bit. I suppose that’s true in a way, but I have paid dearly to be in this position.

  4. Justus, the reason I don’t worry about an agent is because I truly believe it will find the right one. While John, correctly, has pointed out I worry about everything, I am at peace about this.

    How is your WIP coming?

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