As promised, I have not been (completely) idle this December.
Okay, well maybe up until yesterday I had been sort of idle, but I'm trying to make up for it.
First step: I got my best friend/literary manager to go through my query letter with me and point out all the embarrassing bits. Was much better after that. (Did that on the weekend actually, so usefulness extends further back than I thought).
Second step: read through the website Writer's Digest which has really useful information on getting an agent (and other stuff, but I'm being focused!). Particularly they have a lot of interviews with agents who go through what they want, what they don't want, etc. This is great for personalising queries.
Third step: opened up every link to an agency that I thought I might fit well with.
Fourth step: still took the time to read their submission guidelines. Sadly some no longer took Young Adults works, and others didn't want international authors, etc. :(
Fifth step: I used my new and improved query letter, matched with my personalised information on the agents I wanted to contact, mixed in their specific requirements (no manuscript, 5 pages of manuscript, 10 pages, first chapter, first three chapters... etc.) and sent off 5 new agent queries.
Note on simultaneous submissions: (which is different, I have found out, from multiple submissions, which means presenting one agent with two or three different ideas). Simultaneous submissions is where you send your manuscript to multiple different agents or publishers so they are all looking at them at the same time. A lot of agents and publishers really dislike this.
However, from discussions with Rochelle Manners at Even Before Publishing, and the suggestions on many agent websites, it is generally acceptable to query multiple people, but only send the actual manuscript to one at a time. If two or three get back to you, you politely reply thanking them for their interest, and say that the manuscript is currently with an agent, but when they are finished, you will be sure to send it on. (or something like that).
Over night I received three responses! (okay, you can probably guess from that that they weren't great news, but it wasn't all bad).
One was an auto reply saying they were not taking submissions over Christmas so to resend after that. Ok, can do.
One was to thank me, but they do not take international authors or young adults (I knew I was pushing my luck there.)
One replied that she thought it sounded interesting (win!) but she already had a sort of similar young adults she was trying to push so didn't want to take on another one, but another agent might like it. Yah!
So obviously not a total win, but definitely my query must be better because people are taking the time to reply.
One of the last two remaining is one of the ones I think I'm a really good match to and would really like to take me. But will have to wait and see.
Only 10 days until Christmas, and one never knows, Santa might give me an agent for being good :D
In the meantime, will keep working away.