The title is a lie, because I am totally stoked! On Monday morning, I got my first request for a partial! That’s publishing speak for when an author is asked to provide anything less than a full manuscript to an agent or publishing editor, and it’s the first possible step towards getting an agent.
Here’s what I sent him:
How can this not get me representation, right?! It’s illustrated!
Here’s how it works. An aspiring author—that’s me—sends a query letter to an agent. As mentioned in previous posts, I began sending out query letters about six weeks ago. This is a long, drawn out process for just about all new authors, and it can take many, many query letters and sometimes years of effort to finally land an agent, let alone a publishing deal.
So what happens is that after X amount of time, the agent either sends you a rejection letter or asks for a partial or a full manuscript, usually a partial. According to the agent blogs and interviews I read, it seems that somewhere between 2 and 5 percent of queries result in a request for a partial. The rest get a rejection letter.
I’ve sent five query letters so far. The first one was someone I knew was fast. The next two I expect to take a long time, and they’ve been out for a few weeks now. This past weekend, I sent out two more to agents I was very excited about, and imagine my shock when both of them had responses to me by 1:00 PM Eastern on Monday! That’s less than one business day after I sent them out!
One was a rejection, unfortunately, but imagine my even greater shock when one of them turned out to be a request for a partial! For those keeping score, he asked for the “first 50 pages or so.”
I sent 70 because that’s the page count of the first three completed chapters. The first two chapters clocked in at 42 pages, and I figured erring towards a bit more was better than a bit less. Normally, one should follow the letter of what an agency asks for. In this case, the letter of my instructions included some flexibility, and sending completed chapters made more sense to me than not.
So that’s five queries sent, two rejections and one partial received, with two more still out there. It’s a small data set, but it’s very encouraging.
What happens next is that the agent will read enough of my partial to know whether he’s interested in the project and wants the full manuscript or decides that he’s not interested.
If he doesn’t like the full manuscript, he’ll send me a rejection letter. If I’m lucky, he’ll give me feedback on why he rejected it. On the other hand, if he likes the manuscript, he’ll ask for revisions, possibly multiple rounds of revisions. If those revisions don’t satisfy him, he’ll decline to offer me representation (i.e. he’ll send me a rejection letter). As before, if I’m lucky, he’ll give me some feedback on why.
If he does like my revisions, he’ll offer me representation, which is the immediate goal. Assuming we come to terms on that representation, he’ll then start the hard work of trying to sell the manuscript to a publisher, at which point the rejection letters and (hopefully) requests for more revisions from the publishing editor until
To summarize, I got my first request for a partial, and that’s a big deal to me. In the grand scheme of things, though, it’s only the first of many steps to getting representation, let alone getting the publishing deal. So it’s a big deal, but I have to keep it in perspective.
Lastly, who the hell are these two agents who were able to respond so quickly?! In today’s publishing industry, that’s super awesome badass, and I appreciate both of them.
Now, back to writing the second book…
Thanks to Shutterstock for help with the image.