I have never consistently looked for an agent. Every couple of years I’d send a few queries, but I mainly subbed to editors. Why? Because in the children’s market, you can sell without one.
Four years ago, I sent a dozen queries. One resulted in a full request, another in a partial. The full came back with a handwritten page gushing about how great my manuscript was for young girls and how someday I’d sell this and have to let her know, but, you guessed it, it wasn’t right for her. That manuscript has since been through three major overhauls, changing it from a multi POV to first person, from a journal format to straight narrative, and from a three-year time frame to one.
The partial was returned with “I think I’ll pass.”
I got caught up in revision, other manuscripts, and the lure of conference one-on-ones that lead to full requests. The agent search never really got off the ground.
Until this year. I’ve had to be honest with myself. If I want to look at my writing as a business, I’ve got to be doing some serious planning. No more hoping the next editor will snatch up this manuscript or that. No more waiting on fulls eleven plus months with no word. If I was going to walk away from the classroom and write full time, I needed to be acting like a professional. I needed an agent.
So, mid-spring I started subbing in earnest while my students were off at Spanish and PE (thanks to all who now take e-queries!). I’d send about three at a time, submitting between twenty and twenty-five total. By May, I’d gotten my first full request. In June I got two. In July two more. In September another two.
The thing is, I’ve been querying agents with my mind in matchmaker mode: I pick the manuscript that seems to best fit the agent’s interests, query, and hope Mr. Agent will fall so in love, the other manuscripts will be loved, too. So, these seven full requests have been for four different manuscripts. Evidently, this isn’t the normal way to do things, I’ve been told, by an agent who requested a read.