Big Accomplishment Today (Update on 100 Literary Agent Challenge)

I’ve finally done it, folks. I’ve completed my 100 Literary Agent Challenge. Can you believe it? I’ve sent MEDICAL MECH out to 100 agents. It has been a long and arduous road. My initial plan was to send the novel to 100 agents over the course of 100 days. However, that didn’t work out as intended. Life happened. I couldn’t keep up with the time it required to research agents each day. Plus the Holidays hit and a lot of agencies stopped taking manuscripts until after the New Year.

But I didn’t give up. I had set a goal, and I planned to reach it one way or another. So here we are, eight months after I began back in September, and now I’ve completed the task. What do I have to show for it? Well, here’s a look by the numbers:

  1. 100 agents/publishing houses queried.
  2. 34 responses.
  3. 66 have not heard back from . . . yet.
  4. 1 personal response with feedback . . . and a promise to give the manuscript another look after some careful editing/rewriting.
  5. 3 interested in seeing more work from me . . . specifically MADDIE JONES & THE CURSE OF THE TERRACOTTA WARRIORS (they believe this novel will be more marketable than MEDICAL MECH with its guitars and robots).
  6. 3 request to read the manuscript.
  7. 3 rejections afterward . . . but one of those agents represents New York Times bestselling authors and it was extremely cool that she reviewed my work for two weeks.

When you look at the numbers it’s easy to see this experience as formulaic. However, what you’re not seeing are my ups and downs of emotions. When I first began I was filled with excitement and hope. When the first rejections started coming in I was deeply hurt. Then it the challenge became a marathon–and sometimes I didn’t want to keep going. Eventually, after months of querying and I was thirty agents in, I began praying that at least one person would request to see the manuscript. I told myself I’d consider the challenge a win if just ONE said, “Hey, I enjoyed your work. Can I see more?”

Well, 49 agents later and my first request came. My emotions soared! Then the request from a high-profile agent came in while I was cooking dinner one night after a long, stressful day . . . and I felt like I was on Cloud 9. For two weeks, my dreams were very much alive, and it fueled me forward to continue the challenge.

You see, all it takes is one yes. Although I have not (yet) received a letter of representation/publication this go round, I am encouraged that my next project will. I’ve learned a tremendous amount about the process. And a few of the agents I spoke with seem to think MADDIE JONES & THE CURSE OF THE TERRACOTTA WARRIORS has more potential to sell than MEDICAL MECH. I’ll keep my fingers crossed they are right. In the meantime, I’ll be fine-tuning the novel and recruiting test readers soon. And who knows, I might just post a few videos of me reading the opening chapters. Stay tuned.

I’ll conclude with a cartoon that sums up how I feel about this entire thing. It’s easy to quit when things aren’t going your way, but if you do quit you’ll never know how close you might’ve come to achieving your goals.

NEVER GIVE UP, BECAUSE YOU MIGHT BE CLOSER TO YOUR DREAMS THAN YOU THINK.

Never give up--you might be closer to your dreams than you think

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One agent down. 99 more to go.

Well, day one is complete for my 100 literary agent challenge. I sent my novel Medical MECH to agent Nancy Gallt. Her submission process was a little different than others will be. I didn’t send an actual query letter. Instead, I completed the textboxes on her submission page, which included the first 2,000 words of my story, an author bio, that sort of thing. One interesting aspect of her submission process was that she wanted to know what my character would say on behalf of my story. Kind of neat.

Anyway, tomorrow I plan to contact my second literary agent. The goal is to contact 100 agents by the end of 100 days. I hope along the way I’ll have an agent or three request to read the manuscript. But if not, hey, that’s the way the game is played. I won’t give up. I’ll simply revisit my work and try and make it better.

I’ll keep you posted.

Psalm 20-4

One agent. Per day. For 100 days.

That’s the plan. And it begins tomorrow. For the next 100 days, I plan to send query letters and sample chapters to 100 literary agents. My hope is that I’ll be able to secure an agent for my middle grades adventure novel, Medical MECH.

So what will this plan look like?

Well, I exercise six days a week. I write almost daily. So why can’t I devote time to getting an agent each day, too? The answer is simple. It takes work. Researching agents who represent my genre, learning how they want work submitted, and contacting them requires a substantial amount of time. A couple weeks ago while I was squeezing in a thirty minute workout, I thought: Wow, if I can devote time to my health every day, then I should be able to carve time from my busy schedule to send out my work. So here we go.

Tomorrow marks day one. I plan to send Medical MECH to literary agent Nancy Gallt. She represents one of my literary heroes, Rick Riordan–the author of the New York Times bestselling book series for kids, Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Nancy is one of the most successful agents in the business of books. She knows quality work when she sees it. And if I’m going to seek representation, I might as well start at the top. Is Medical MECH up to her standards? I believe so, but I also understand the reality of what I’m about to face.

Rejection.

In the next 100 days, I must steel my emotions for rejection. Most of it won’t be personal. It’s just business. Agents need to make a buck. I believe Medical MECH can make them money, but my challenge is convincing agents I’m worth the risk. Regardless, being told you’re not good enough hurts. Does knowing I’ll be told this make the process any easier? I don’t think so. It just means I have realistic expectations going in.

I’m filled with hope. A little bit of fear. But wish me luck, because I’m about to embark on a 100 day journey that could potentially change my life…and if it doesn’t, that’s okay, too. At least I’ll know I took life by the reigns and went for my dreams.

And that’s the biggest lesson here. Go for your dreams, no matter how lofty they may be. I’m going for mine. Are you?