My final points on the long process of getting a literary agent:
- Querying is, IMHO, even more gut-wrenching a process than writing/revising. However: It. Must. Be. Mastered. My query is what got me noticed from the slush piles I submitted to, it can do the same for you.
- Befriend other writers. Be a true friend, willing to help them, and be willing to ask them for help. I did not, could not have done this alone. I doubt many can. Be honest, be sympathetic, cheerlead for them. It will feel amazing when they do the same for you.*
- Getting feedback on your writing is essential. Consider it seriously, weighing it against what you feel to be right, true, and best for your story. Keep your ego out of the equation.
- There will always be revisions. And revisions. And some more revisions.
- Rejections will hurt. Acknowledge the feelings, then be strong enough to move on.
- Personalized rejections mean you're on the right track. Your query was good, your story and writing were good. It was just that the agent wasn't the right fit.
- Patience, patience, patience.
- It's not about getting any agent, it's about getting The Right Agent for you and your career. Your agent should be enthusiastic about you and your book, should have a good track record, and work for an agency that knows what it's doing. Most of all, you should feel some sort of connection with your agent. Don't just talk to him or her if you're not absolutely sure about them, interview them. You are hiring this person to work for you.
- Trust your instincts. Say "yes" if it feels right; say "no" if it doesn't.
- Review any contract carefully before signing. It will be one of the most important legal documents of your writing career. Seek the opinion of a contract/legal professional. Only sign it if you are confident the contract is fair and works for you.
- When it comes to the process of trying to secure the right agent and getting published, most of it is out of your hands. The only thing you can control throughout the entire process is your writing. Keep writing.
What did I forget? What suggestions would you add?
* My very public thanks to Amlaped, Heather Kelly, and Anna Staniszewski.