I’m Just a Mail Order Bride: On Querying Agents

Sometimes being an author rules–I can show up for work in my play clothes, take a dance break when my brain gets tired, and go to the bathroom whenever I want.

Being a writer of a novel is especially fun because I get to be creative, like, all dang day.

But some things are confusing at first. A few weeks ago, I posted that I’d finished my novel and sent it out to agents; people keep coming up to me and congratulating me on getting published. So, this post is to clarify: My novel has not been published. Yet.

Here’s the process, for people like me who choose to go the traditional publication route. It puts me in mind of mail order bridery: my goods are out there, on display for a select few, while I sit at home praying that someone wants me.

  1. Write a novel. (And push it through many revisions, critiques, etc., to make it as lovely as possible.)
  2. Research agents. (More on this in a later post.)
  3. Write query letters to a handful of agents you’d like to work with.
  4. Wait. And wait. And wait. Maybe for months!
  5. Repeat 1-4 with the same novel and new agents, or with a new novel, until you find an agent.
  6. Then…do whatever the agent tells you.* This may include more revising and editing.
  7. Wait for the agent to find a publisher. (Isn’t this great? In the traditional model, it’s the agent’s job to find a publisher!)
  8. Then…do whatever the publisher tells you.* This may include more revising and editing.
  9. Wait. And wait. And wait. Maybe for a year!
  10. Take selfies of yourself in front of your book on the shelves of your local bookstore!

In a “You are here” map of this process, I’d be standing smack in the middle of #4. The waiting part.

For any agents out there who are reading this, lured here by my query letter: look no further! I’m the mail order author for you! Definitely. I’m nice. And hard-working. And full of great ideas!

Plus, reread #6.


*For those readers who are used to warning labels like “The knife you just purchased is not intended for use as a toy,” please note that I accept no responsibility in the case that you fail to do #2-3 properly, end up with a whack-a-mole agent, and blindly follow instructions to sign over blank checks or create a pseudonym spelled exactly like your agent’s.



photo credit: U.S. Department of Defence – 960509-O-0000P-007.

These are a few of my favorite things exhibit A: Getting Published!

I’m pleased to announce that my short story “Waiting for a Leader” was recently published in Primary Treasure! This piece was inspired by my daughter Aeddan and her classmates when a new girl started school with them in fourth grade.

Primary Treasure is a magazine put out by the Seventh Day Adventists for their kids to read in Sunday School. It’s legit–David James Duncan even mentions it in The Brothers K (better known as The Best Book Ever Written). I get super excited when things I love overlap: think Seven Degrees of Separation, but with my hobbies instead of people. (Remember how excited I was to appear with Dave Barry? Or get published by Ariel Gore?) So, here is the spider-webby map of this one:

my love of my kids+my career as a writer+my favorite book+my faith in Jesus=hemorrhaging joy!!!

(In case the metaphor breaks down, that’s a good thing.)

I’m sorry to say that this story isn’t available online–but not to worry! Just walk into your friendly neighborhood Seventh Day Adventist church (on a Saturday, remember) and offer to trade any kid for an old copy of Calvin and Hobbes.

Next week: in which my satire appears next to a comic by Bill Watterson. (Or, probably, not. But only because he’s retired.)


Don’t fret: I’m just querying agents

Well, it’s been one year and seven months since I drafted the first words of my novel. And now, it’s finally done.

I know; I can’t believe it either.

So, now I’m deep in the process of querying agents.

If you don’t hear from me in two weeks, send reinforcements. Until then, prayers will do.


photo credit: stuartpilbrow at Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons